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Las Vegas Clinic May Be Tip of The Iceberg

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 10:44 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care, Hepatitis C, HIV, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices

Criminal charges may face the owner of four clinics in Las Vegas which have now had their licenses suspended.

LEARN MORE

  • License suspension notice
  • Southern Nevada Health District Hotline is (702)759-4636 (INFO)
  • Las Vegas Journal-Review photos of Dr. Desai 

The CDC says the hepatitis C outbreak in Nevada may be the "tip of an iceberg" of public health safety concerns.

The city of Las Vegas is still trying to find about 40,000 patients who visited the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada from March 2004 until this January and may have contracted hepatitis C.

The clinic license has been suspended, and to be cautious, health officials have suspended the licenses of three other clinics managed by the same group, Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, Gastroenterology Center of Nevada and Spanish Hills Surgical Center. 

Lawyers for the clinics walked into court Monday to try and get their licenses back, but were unsuccessful.

The Encoscopy Center was found not to be using standard public health protocols, and instead was reusing a syringe on the same patient which is apparently the way hepatitis C got into a multi-dose vial of sedative which was then transferred to at least five other patients. The five attended the clinic on the same day for colonoscopies.

Hepatitis C is a blood borne liver disease for which there is no cure. Patients are also being urged to be tested for hepatitis B and HIV.

CDC head Dr. Julie Gerberding called this a "never event" that "should never happen in contemporary health care organizations."  But unfortunately she says, they have seen this practice in other large-scale organizations that have led to patient exposure. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV met Monday with Dr. Gerberding and in a conference call with the media, both strongly condemned the practice.

Sen. Reid will work with Congress on an emergency spending bill next month to fund more resources for the CDC still trying to locate the 40,000. So far they don't have correct addresses for 1,400 people. 

Dr. Gerberding said, "Our concern is that this could represent the tip of an iceberg and we need to be much more aggressive about alerting clinicians about how improper this practice is," she said, "but also continuing to invest in our ability to detect these needles in a haystack at the state level so we recognize when there has been a bad practice and patients can be alerted and tested."

Part of the problem is that about four percent of the population is walking around with hepatitis C already, undetected, undiagnosed and without symptoms. Hepatitis C can destroy the liver for years without symptoms. Fatal liver disease can result as can jaundice and fatigue. Hepatitis B also attacks the liver but is more rare.

Meanwhile, the clinic co-owner Dr. Dipak Desai took out an ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal Sunday expressing his "deepest sympathy to all our patients and their families for the fear and uncertainty that naturally arises from this situation."  He also denied that reusing syringes was part of the protocol at his clinic. He is setting up a foundation to cover testing costs.

So far several civil lawsuits have been filed and criminal charges are being considered by the Clark County District Attorney working alongside the FBI.

Patient George Madden, who got a colonoscopy at the Endoscopy Center can't believe someone didn't speak up. 

He tells Las Vegas Now,  "Not one person had a heart, or they flat out didn't know what they were doing. Someone knew and we needed a whistle blower."  #


10 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by douglas
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 1:43 PM EST

I would really hate to think this is a matter of discontent by some disenchanted health worker? Get to the bottom of this, and deal the same punishment back, and you'll find workers in the health care industry a lot less willing to endanger the innocent lives who they are paid to serve. It is completely unacceptable to think a paid proffesional would conduct themselves in this manner, and according to the CDC, we haven't seen anything yet- Hold these people ultimately responsible, I mean commit the same dirty deed upon them, or worse, they have violated a very needed trust.

Anonymous User
Posted by scott
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 2:09 PM EST

Give them (attempt of murder) why? because some of the patients might already be walking dead.

Anonymous User
Posted by BB
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 6:20 PM EST

If someone ends up going to prison for this, they may get the same treatment. Something that the nations prison system does not want the public to know is that needle reuse is a common practice in the prison health system. They not only reuse needles on the same patient, but will "rinse" needles in water and reuse them on different patients.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jim
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 5:11 PM EST

The only needle suited for the clinic's owner and workers is the lethal one.
My cuasin is among these 40,000 people. he has been tested and no results yet.
I understand the pain and frustration he is going through until he gets the results. I pray all is well for him and the rst of these poor souls.

Anonymous User
Posted by joey
Thursday, March 06, 2008 6:47 PM EST

don't trust muslims...even their doctors.

Anonymous User
Posted by GD
Thursday, March 06, 2008 6:58 PM EST

I agree with Joey. All these muslims do is cause problems. We have enough american doctors why are we employing muslim doctors? Did we not learn a lesson from 9/11? Maybe the medical schools should screen their doctors a little better. I hope this guy gets screwed in jail litteraly for putting all these innocent lifes at risk!

Anonymous User
Posted by carlos
Friday, March 07, 2008 1:49 PM EST

I think all the muslims from middle east wiil do the same if they had the chance....may be we should be more selective about giving medical licenses to foreigners.
these refugees from Pakistan or any arab countries will NEVER appreciate the chance America gives them. look all around the world they are nothing but trouble...their religion dictates them to be this way.

Posted by bob
Friday, March 14, 2008 6:26 PM EST

You guys are are fucking idiots.

Anonymous User
Posted by Tonya Hicks
Saturday, March 15, 2008 11:25 PM EST

I am one of the 40,000.00 people that the Nevada Health District sent out letters to informing me that I could have been exposed.... how do I feel about this? I am absolutely terrified, to go to my Doctor to even find out !!! I don't even live in Las Vegas anymore I live in Washington state and have for the last 2 years. I had a Colonoscophy {ms} done in 2004. Had one done in 2000 and they called me for my every 4 year testing to be done, God how I wish they had forgotten about me. I feel set up to be one of the many. I trusted them with my health, to take care of me. I never wanted to have the first one done, but my daughter being a RN, said Mom, you need this done at your age..over 50. I'll never forget " Shadow Lane Clinic" as long as I live . I have been just exhausted for 6 months or so, and now I find out this is one of the symptoms... Yeah, I know I have to go get tested, but I haven't slept more than an hour or so since I received the letter 2 weeks ago. I remember the Doctor too, same one that is in all the news. I wonder if he sleeps at nite. My fear is also for my husband and 2 grandsons that live with me, have I some how infected them ?? I'll go get tested, but I am so terrified to find out the answer.

Anonymous User
Posted by Susan
Wednesday, April 02, 2008 2:48 PM EST

I am told that the Las Vegas health district has now found a medspa that was reusing Botox vials. Does anyone know if this is true?

Comments for this article are closed.

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