Dallas/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 13, 2024
Dallas Doctor's Diabolical Drip: Guilty of IV Tampering TerrorSource: Google Street View

In a chilling verdict, a Dallas anesthesiologist was found guilty of intentionally tampering with IV bags, resulting in one death and a spate of cardiac emergencies during what should have been low-risk surgeries. Dr. Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz Jr., 60, faced justice as a jury convicted him on multiple counts, including four of tampering with consumer products causing serious bodily injury and one count of intentional adulteration of a drug, according to the Department of Justice.

Ortiz, who had been charged last September and indicted in October, now faces a possible 190 years behind bars. In the explosive trial that lasted eight days, jurors took seven hours to deliberate before reaching their verdict. "The department will work with its law enforcement partners to hold accountable anyone who puts patients' lives at risk by tampering with critical medical products," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton emphasized following the trial, as per the Department of Justice.

Patients undergoing routine medical procedures at Surgicare North Dallas experienced unanticipated cardiac emergencies between May and August of 2022, initiating an investigation into the unexpected medical crises. It wasn't until a colleague of Ortiz's died from using a compromised IV bag that suspicion fell on the IV bags themselves. A disturbing case unfolded as a local lab discovered an IV bag used during an 18-year-old's surgery contained a toxic cocktail of drugs not prescribed for the procedure, revealing a puncture indicative of tampering.

The prosecution laid out a harrowing narrative, supported by surveillance footage that showed Ortiz switching IV bags in the warming bin and observing as his colleagues' patients crashed, landing in emergency care. A disciplinary action looming over an alleged medical mistake may have been Ortiz's motive for jeopardizing patients' lives. "He assembled ticking time bombs, then sat in wait as those medical time bombs went off one by one," the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas relayed in a statement, per the Department of Justice.

At the trial, doctors described their shock as their patients' conditions abruptly worsened after hanging new IV bags. The victims shared harrowing accounts of waking up intubated and terrified, their peace and safety stole in vulnerable unconsciousness. A sentencing date for Ortiz is pending, and the details of his punishment remain as yet unsealed. This heinous breach of trust has left deep scars not only on the victims but also on the integrity of medical practice at large.

Investigators from the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, such as Special Agents Chad Medaris and Daniel Allgeyer, spearheaded the case, together with the Civil Division's Consumer Protection Branch and the Northern District of Texas U.S. Attorney's office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Director Patrick Runkle, Trial Attorney Rachel Baron, and Assistant U.S. Attorney John de la Garza, with appellate support from Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Hayworth. Chief U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey oversaw the trial.