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September 24, 2022
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Doctor in Texas suspended after a tainted IV bag led to a colleague’s death

The Texas Medical Board has suspended an anesthesiologist who is under investigation for his possible connection to a “tampered” IV bag that led to a colleague’s death in northern Dallas.

Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz is the subject of an “ongoing criminal investigation” related to the June 21 death of Dr. Melanie Kasper, 55, according to the order of temporary suspension the board’s disciplinary panel issued Friday.

Kasper, whom the board referred to as a “fellow physician,” took a “tampered IV bag home with her when she was ill, to rehydrate,” the suspension order said.

But the IV bag and at least one other used by a patient were found to have “visible tiny holes in the plastic wrap,” according to the order, and they “contained bupivacaine but they were not labeled as such.”

Bupivacaine is a local anesthetic. An autopsy revealed that Kasper’s cause of death was accidental bupivacaine toxicity, the order said.

It further described how Ortiz “was seen on surveillance footage” at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas “depositing single IV bags into the warmer in the hallway outside the operating rooms.”

Placing IV solutions are routinely placed in warmers to deliver fluids to patients that are warm rather than ice cold.

The suspension order said that “when he deposited an IV bag in the warmer, shortly thereafter a patient would suffer a serious complication.”

“Tests were run on the remaining contents from an IV bag that was given to another otherwise heathy patient who had a serious cardiac event during a routine surgery,” the order said. “The tests indicated that the IV fluid contained similar drugs that should have not been in the IV bag.”

According to the suspension order, “such drugs could and would be fatal when administered unknowingly and intravenously.”

The medical board said Ortiz’s “continuation in the practice of medicine would constitute a continuing threat to the public welfare.”

Federal law enforcement is investigating, the medical board said.

Ortiz could not be immediately reached for comment Monday. An FBI representative in Dallas referred all questions about the matter to city police and the Justice Department.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and a representative of the Dallas police told NBC News in statement: “What we can confirm is we are part of an ongoing investigation.” The police declined to offer additional information. 

Baylor Scott & White Health, the surgery center’s larger health care network, said in a statement Monday that “Surgicare North Dallas contacted law enforcement after discovering that an IV bag appeared to have been compromised.”

“On the same day, the facility elected to pause its operations. The facility remains closed while we focus on assisting investigators and communicating with patient,” it said.

David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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