Marcelo Leal for Unsplash

Editor’s note: Updated Wednesday, Sept. 14 — Dallas police arrested 59-year-old Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz, Jr. in Plano this afternoon. He was booked into Dallas County Jail at around 3:15, and no bond has been set. 

Dallas might have another Dr. Death on its hands.

After we reported on the investigation into a suspicious death associated with a northeast Dallas area surgical center, we started learning some disturbing information about anesthesiologist, Raynaldo Rivera Ortiz, Jr., whose license was temporarily revoked last Friday.

Ortiz is suspected of tampering with IV bags and causing at least one death, of Lakewood resident Melanie Kaspar, 55. He also is suspected of causing harm to at least one other patient, has a history of disciplinary action by the Texas State Medical Board and has been arrested a number of times, including for domestic violence and for shooting a dog with a pellet gun.

We have reached out to Dallas and Richardson-area medical professionals who have worked with Ortiz and will continue to update this story with new information as we talk to them and as a criminal investigation continues.

Last June, according to the Texas State Medical Board, Dr. Melanie Kaspar “took home a bag of IV fluids from the clinic when she was ill, to rehydrate.”

She inserted the IV into her vein and almost immediately had a serious cardiac event and died, according to the Medical Board’s suspension order.

At first, everyone believed she had a heart attack, but later, a medical examiner found that drug toxicity is what killed her.

The medical board’s report says the surgical center’s surveillance video showed Dr. Ortiz depositing single IV bags into an IV warmer situated in the hall outside operating rooms. (IV solutions are routinely placed in warmers to deliver fluids to patients that are warm rather than very cold.)

“When he deposited a bag in the warmer, shortly thereafter a patient would suffer a serious complication,” according to the document.

Lab tests showed IV bags from the warmer contained microscopic holes and the drug bupivacaine, which is used for numbing and which can be fatal when administered “unknowingly and intravenously.”

According to the Dallas Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, it is the same drug that caused Kaspar’s death.

Kaspar was a beloved doctor, friend and family member, according to her obituary. “Mel was well respected in her field and at the various hospitals she worked at across Dallas … she put patients at ease and calmed their fears. She touched more people’s hearts than she ever knew,” it reads.

The medical board noted that it learned about this investigation, in part, from media reports, after which it hastily suspended Ortiz’ license, without  a hearing, due to concern for public safety. The clinic has ceased operating for now.

Dr. Ortiz’s temporary suspension remains in place until the board takes further action, and the Board will continue to “swiftly take action to protect the people of Texas while simultaneously ensuring due process of Board licensees,” according to the medical board.

Ortiz, who has been operating a consultancy called Garland Anesthesia Consultants (based in Richardson) has not been charged with a crime, but is under criminal investigation, Dallas police confirm.

He has been in trouble in the past.

Most recently he was fined $3,000 in August in relation to a November 2020 incident in which a patient he was anesthetizing required resuscitation and emergency transportation to another hospital.

At that time Ortiz also relinquished his medical staff privileges at North Garland Surgery Center. That documentation, also from the State Medical Board, refers to his “previous disciplinary action.”

And that opened up a can of worms — the previous discipline was due to Dr. Ortiz failing to disclose to the board a prior criminal conviction and arrest “for cruelty to a non-livestock animal,” which is just the tip of the rap sheet.

According to documents from the State Medical Board, Ortiz was arrested in 1995 over accusations of assault causing bodily injury to his former spouse. Since then, Ortiz has had one arrest and one protective order issued in connection with violence against two separate women.

The animal cruelty is related to one of the domestic violence cases, according to the appeal Ortiz vs. The State of Texas. In June 2016, a Collin County jury found Ortiz guilty of cruelty to an animal, and an appellate court came to the same conclusion — Ortiz shot and maimed his neighbor’s dog. The motive, the jury decided, was retaliation after the neighbor testified against him at a protective order hearing and helped one of his domestic violence accusers escape his home. The neighbor also testified that she suspected him of shooting a rabbit and tossing the carcass into her yard. He received a deferred sentence and probation in the matter of the dog.

We spoke with a Dr. Devin Trousdale who is a professor at UT Southwestern and who has had some brief encounters with Ortiz. He suspects there might be much more to the story, that several other people might have been harmed, something the FBI and police are looking into. Dallas police confirm only that they are involved in the investigation.

Dr. Trousdale, also an anesthesiologist, worked with Ortiz at the now defunct Richardson Medical Center. He says one of his partners warned him about Ortiz, who they felt acted unprofessionally and borderline dangerously during a procedure. It was more a case of Ortiz trying to rush on a day when the hospital was behind schedule, but it affected his fellow physicians enough to talk about it to one another, Trousdale tells us. “In anesthesia we help each other out, but [in this case] it wasn’t so much for patient safety as he really just wanted to speed things along for himself.”

Dr. Trousdale adds that, while it’s certainly not as newsworthy (but, I think it is), Dr. Ortiz was known to double park his Corvette in the physician parking lot, where spaces were limited, which did little for his reputation among his peers.

When the dog was shot in 2015, the neighbor says she heard the sound of the Corvette pulling into the driveway before she heard her dog yelp in pain. “It’s a very loud, distinctive roar when [appellant] comes home,” she testified.  And the court documents mention that Ortiz had at least three Corvettes.

A Lakewood resident tipped us off to the fact that Dr. Ortiz was a Dallas Mavericks season ticket holder who is seen courtside in several Mavs photographs.

I don’t have rights to those images, but some posts on the Mavs page show him.

If you worked with Dr. Ortiz, or if you or a loved one were under his care at any time, please contact us chughes@advocatemag.com. This is an evolving story.