5 updates on the trial of anesthesiologist accused of poisoning IV bags at ASC

The trial for Raynaldo Ortiz Jr., MD, an anesthesiologist accused of injecting drugs into IV bags at Baylor Scott & White Surgicare North Dallas leading to 11 patients' cardiac arrest, began April 1, NBC affiliate KXAS reported April 4.

The investigation began after the June 2022 death of anesthesiologist Melanie Kaspar, MD. Her death was ruled to be from the effects of bupivacaine, and she allegedly took an IV bag home with her when she was ill to rehydrate, inserted the IV into her vein, had a serious cardiac event and died. There also is surveillance footage in which Dr. Ortiz appears to place IV bags in warmers outside operating rooms before patients experienced unexpected cardiac emergencies. 

Dr. Ortiz pleaded not guilty to the charges April 1.

Here are five updates since the trial began:

1. Witnesses took the stand April 4. Anesthesiologist Chad Marsden, MD, testified on an incident on Aug. 19, 2022, involving a patient at the ASC. The patient, who had undergone a procedure to drain fluid, experienced blood pressure shooting "up, and up, and up" to dangerous levels, according to the report. She was later stabilized at a hospital. 

"The situation was very confusing and frankly very scary," Dr. Marsden said, according to the report. 

2. When the same medical emergency happened to a fifth patient a few days later, Dr. Marsden found a tiny hole at the bottom of the IV bag, according to the report. 

3. Another witness, a spokesperson from the company that manufactured the IV bags, said an internal investigation, launched after the fifth case, found the IV bags passed inspections and were not tampered with before leaving the manufacturing facility. 

4. Dr. Ortiz's team has questioned whether the physicians knew about patients' underlying health conditions.

5. According to an April 5 report from Fox affiliate KDFW, prosecutors are aiming to show that Dr. Ortiz's businesses were losing money, and he had an "expensive lifestyle," thus "putting him in a desperate situation when his privileges were once again in question." The report said that he has a $1.3 million home, five luxury cars, and owed about $3 million to the IRS.

According to the defense, Dr. Ortiz's business dropped from a revenue of $9 million in 2017 to $4 million in 2021, while his annual income went from $3.2 million in 2016 to $1.7 million in 2020.

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