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Patient testifies at trial of Dallas anesthesiologist: "I knew something was really wrong"

Patient testifies at trial of Dallas anesthesiologist: "I knew something was really wrong"
Patient testifies at trial of Dallas anesthesiologist: "I knew something was really wrong" 00:33

DALLAS — There was emotional testimony Tuesday in the trial of Dr. Raynaldo Ortiz, a Dallas anesthesiologist accused of tampering with IV bags at the Baylor Scott & White Surgicare Center in North Dallas. Federal prosecutors say his actions put patients at risk and even caused one death.

The Plano woman, 57, had plastic surgery at the center in August 2022. She testified that she went in for a facelift and liposuction, and while she expected to go home that day, instead she woke up in extreme pain at a different hospital. 

The woman told the jury she had no idea what had happened, but she was intubated and that's why, she said, "I knew something was really wrong."

She said she was told her blood pressure had spiked during surgery, so doctors had to cut her surgery short and have her taken to a hospital, where she spent four nights in the ICU.

The woman told jurors her health is worse since the incident; she is now on beta blockers "for life."

Prosecutors believe Ortiz injected nerve-blocking drugs into IV bags used during surgeries, which caused the cardiac emergencies.

On cross-examination, the defense attorney asked her several questions about what the doctor told her had gone wrong during the surgery. The defense referred to notes from the doctor that indicated she had bled more than expected and required several treatments during surgery before her blood pressure spiked. 

Ashley Burks, a nurse and former administrator at the facility, spent several hours on the witness stand Tuesday. Prosecutors walked her through a series of photos from inside the surgical center, as well as a floorplan showing where the surveillance cameras were located. 

Burks testified that the facility installed the surveillance system in May 2022. She also told jurors she worked with Ortiz on and off since 2009, joining him on "hundreds" of surgeries during that time. 

When prosecutors asked her, if Ortiz ever put IV bags in the warmer, Burks said no because "his job was to take care of patients, not stock the warmer."

When prosecutors asked about a series of unexplained emergencies in the summer of 2022, Burks testified that the facility took a number of steps to try to figure out what was going on. Burks said they had numerous physicians review the case files but could not find any similarities. The nurses in each case were different. The surgeries took place in different operating rooms. the patient histories were different. Burks told jurors the facility had the anesthesia machine serviced and looked over possible drug recalls, trying to find a common denominator.

Burks continued her testimony by watching and commenting on several surveillance videos played by prosecutors. 

On August 9, 2022, Ortiz was seen pulling three IV bags out of the warmer at 8 a.m. At 10:19 a.m., video shows him put one bag into the warmer; 35 minutes later another medical staffer goes to the warmer and pulls out a bag to take into surgery. Video shows doctors rolling in the crash cart at 11:03 a.m. Burks testified that that patient was one of the unexplained emergencies that month.

Prosecutors also walked her through videos showing similar events on August 16, August 19 and August 24, the day of an 18-year-old's rhinoplasty. Burks became emotional when testifying about his medical emergency, saying at the time she thought, "It's happening again."

Burks said she walked to the OR doorway and watched doctors do chest compressions on him as they waited for paramedics to arrive. It was at that point another doctor, Chad Marsden, directed Burks to get an IV bag directly out of the manufacturer's box. Burks says Marsden told her to change out the patient's bag and hold onto the one that had been in you during the surgery.

Burks testified that she held a meeting in her office later that day, and had gathered all of the bags from the warmer and all of the bag wrappers from the operating room.

That's when she says she noticed something strange about the last bag used. 

"We found that there was a hole in it," Burks testified.

Prosecutors showed that bag and the hole to the jury before having Burks demonstrate how to puncture an IV bag. She was given a new saline bag, needle, and a syringe. When she was finished, prosecutors remarked that it had taken her just eight seconds to make the puncture mark.

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