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Conflicts of Interest In Nevada Hepatitis C Investigation

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, March 17, 2008 11:10 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Medical Malpractice, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Hepatitis, Colon Cancer, Endoscopy, Defective Drugs

Three doctors are told to hand in their resignations from a medical board investigating the physicians behind the hepatitis c outbreak in Las Vegas. The three reportedly have conflicts of interst.


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikicommons/ Euchiasmus 

Nevada’s Governor Jim Gibbons has asked for the resignation of three doctors on the state’s Board of Medical Examiners who are charged with discipling physicians involved with the hepatitis C outbreak in his state.   

In a statement issued Sunday night, Republican Gov. Gibbons says apparent conflicts of interest require that the three resign including – Nevada Board of Medical Examiners President Dr. Javaid Anwar, Vice President Dr. Sohail Anjum and board member Dr. Daniel McBride.

Dr. Dipak Desai sat on the board from 1993 to 2001 and is a longtime friend of president, Dr. Anwar. 

Dr. Desai is the owner of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, where shoddy public health practices have 40,000 scrambling to be tested for hepatitis c, b and HIV.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that Dr. Anwar failed to disclose he also had business dealings with Dr. Dipak Desai. And just last week, Dr. Anwar made sure that Dr. Desai’s medical license remained in good standing even though Dr. Desai has voluntarily decided not to practice medicine for the present time in Nevada. He can still practice elsewhere. 

Friday, the three board members recused themselves, failing to take any actions dealing with the endoscopy center, their friends or associates tied to the health crisis. 

This in no way questions the integrity of the board’s members” Gov. Gibbons tells the newspaper.  “I simply want to be certain that any member of this board can act on public health issues broad to them without conflict.”

The board is made up of six physicians and three members of the public all appointed by the governor. They are in charge with disciplining doctors in the state for anything from malpractice to overbilling. 

Gov. Gibbons says he will also be checking for any conflicts of interest among the remaining board members.

Asked to turn in his resignation is the board’s executive director, Tony Clark, who is a former adjutant general of the Nevada National Guard.

Gov. Gibbons has also asked to remove the head of the Nevada Bureau of Licensing and Certification, Lisa Jones, which issues licenses to the state’s surgical center.

The bureau is investigating all 50 of the state’s surgical centers such as the Endoscopy Center that performs outpatient procedures such as colonoscopies.

So far state health inspectors have found unsafe public health practices at a half dozen other clinics, though none of them are linked to an outbreak of disease. 

Taking a swipe at the media, he calls it “buffoonery” that is creating hysteria around the issue.  Gibbons says “This hysteria has been created by people not getting the right information” citing that only six people have been confirmed with hepatitis c so far, typical of the general population.

The governor fails to disclose that thousands of former patients of the Endoscopy Center are still awaiting test results.

In an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal the governor sounds himself like he is espousing a little conflict of interest.   

“There was no single-vial of medication reused. There were no reused needles," said Gibbons to the Reno newspaper in defending Desai's clinic.

"Gross negligence when you have far below the number of average (hepatitis C) cases listed? That's trial-lawyer speak to me. I think if you'd had gross negligence, you'd have a higher number."

That softer talk is in direct opposition to the governor who last week said that criminal charges should be brought against Dr. Desai and others if they put the public at risk.

Nurses formerly associated with the Endoscopy Center have told investigators that they did reuse syringes as a cost-cutting move

Gov. Gibbons says he is taking the decisive action to restore public trust.

Gov. Gibbons is no stranger to Dr. Desai. The doctor helped the governor after he was elected in November 2006 form his medical transition team to office. #


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