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85 Now Identified With Hepatitis C in Las Vegas Investigation

Posted by Jane Akre
Sunday, May 11, 2008 12:04 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Wrongful Death, Medical Malpractice, Hepatitis C, HIV, Hepatitis B

85 have been identified in the expanding Las Vegas clinic investigation as former patients who have contracted hepatitis C.  

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IMAGE SOURCE: WikiMedia Commons/ colonoscopy illustration/ author: Euchiasmus 

 

The most expansive public health investigation in U.S. history has added more names to the list of patients who've contracted hepatitis C from the reuse of syringes and vials at Las Vegas area clinics.  

Now health officials say 77 more people treated at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada have been diagnosed with hepatitis C.

It’s unclear how they were infected, though all have visited the center and none had hepatitis C or any risks factors before they were a patient there between March 2004 and
January 11th of this year.

Risk factors for hepatitis C include IV drug use, sharing needles, an organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1992, dialysis for kidney failure or having sexual contact with a known carrier of hepatitis C.

The latest cases identified are among 400 former patients of the Endoscopy Center and another clinic on Shadow Lane who have recently tested positive.

The remaining may have had a risk factor for exposure. It’s estimated about three to four percent of the population carries hepatitis C but is asymptomatic.  

Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist for the Southern Nevada Health District tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "We can't say for certain that they got it at the clinic; however, the clinic is the obvious source of infection considering they had no other risk factors," Labus said.

Genetic testing can be useful to identify the source of the disease in clusters, but Labus says that the virus mutates rapidly making it difficult to identify the source.

Altogether there are now 85 confirmed cases of hepatitis C linked to the Endoscopy Center and the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center also run by majority owner, Dr. Dipak Desai and his partner Dr. Eladio Carrera. The medical licenses of both men have been suspended pending a hearing by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners.

Health officials say at least 40,000 patients and thousands more of their exposed loved ones are being tested for hepatitis C, B and HIV. The origional exposure at the clinic came through the reuse of syringes and single-use vials of sedative.

Reportedly, 10,000 former patients cannot be located.

There is no cure for hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that can cause cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and death.

Last week, Dr. Desai was stopped by a car dealer from shipping his two Mercedes out of the country to Dubai. 

The FBI, local police and State Attorney’s office is also conducting criminal investigations into Dr. Desai who is alleged to have told his medical personnel to reuse syringes and other equipment in a cost-saving move.

Those inside the investigation say he also over-billed Medicaid for services.  

Several hundred people have joined into class-action lawsuits against Dr. Desai and his clinic.

Lawyers for Dr. Desai want plaintiffs to fill out a 27-page questionnaire detailing information about their sex lives and drug use. Lawyers for plaintiffs say it is a designed to embarrass and humiliate those who have filed suit. Dr. Desai’s lawyers believe it’s necessary to determine whether those who are suing have any additional risk factors.

On Friday the Nevada State Board Medical Examiners refused to turn over to the District Attorney’s office complaints against Dr. Desai.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Scott Mitchell told the Las Vegas Sun, “I think they are so far removed from what they’re supposed to be doing that it hasn’t occurred to them that they’re protection for the public, not interference for the doctors.”

Dr. Desai, one of the most prominent doctors in the state, was previously one of the nine board member and many believe his friendships with other board members as well as Gov. Jim Gibbons is the only reason he is not in jail now. 

The doctor has already paid the city $500,000 in fines.   # 


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Linda Flores de Leon
Monday, May 12, 2008 4:18 PM EST

This is the most appalling example of the greed and inadequacy of the American Medical Industry in general. It has been common knowledge for over 30 years that reusing syringes and needles and drug vials is an unsafe practice. And the drug companies have grown to epic capacities and the amount of control over the administration of health care, drugs and treatments are reaching beyond the insurance companies and the governments ability to control these things and the profits are limitless and yet the greed has made some idiots think they can increase profits even more by neglecting to protect those individuals who come to them for help. I have never trusted the drug companies and the insurance companies and for the most part the doctors and nurses and pharmacists because they are guided by the profiteering mercenaries of the health care industry... Until these immoral, greedy criminals are dealt with like the drug dealers they are this will never end. They should be put under the jail and the keys should be melted and fashioned into weights to be worn around their necks as a reminder of what happens to negligent greedy "I'll do ANYTHING for a buck" pigs. Otherwise they will continue to put pour health behind their drive to earn, steal as much money as is in the world.

Comments for this article are closed.

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