Medical board suspends Texas physician connected to tampered IV bags, colleague's death

The Texas Medical Board has temporarily suspended the license of a Dallas anesthesiologist after being notified by federal authorities that the physician is under investigation in connection with tampered IV bags that led to a colleague's death and a serious patient complication.

The board determined that allowing Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz, MD, to continue practicing medicine "poses a continuing threat to public welfare," according to a Sept. 9 suspension order. 

The order said surveillance footage at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas, where Dr. Ortiz worked, showed the physician placing IV bags into a warmer in the hallway outside operating rooms.

"When he deposited an IV bag in the warmer, shortly thereafter a patient would suffer a serious complication," the order said. 

It also described an incident in June, when another physician at the Dallas facility took a tampered IV bag home with her to rehydrate when she was ill. "Almost immediately" after she inserted the IV into her vein, she suffered "a serious cardiac event and died," the documents said. 

Further investigation showed IV bags placed in the warmer "displayed visible tiny holes in the plastic wrap around the bags," and contained bupivacaine,  — a local anesthetic — but were not labeled as such. An autopsy report in August concluded the cause of death for Dr. Ortiz's colleague who took the IV home with her was "accidental bupivacaine toxicity." Tests run on leftover contents from the bag given to a patient who experienced "a serious cardiac event during a routine surgery" showed the fluid contained "similar drugs that should not have been in the IV bag," according to the suspension order. 

Baylor Scott & White Health in a statement sent to Becker's Sept. 13 said, "Surgicare North Dallas contacted law enforcement after discovering that an IV bag appeared to have been compromised." The facility paused operations that same day and remains closed as federal law enforcement continues its investigation.

"There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our patients. We will continue to limit our comments as we support authorities in their investigation," the health system said. 

The Texas Medical Board said a temporary suspension hearing will be held within 10 days, unless waved by Dr. Ortiz.  

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