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Nevada Governor Defends Clinic Inspector Cuts

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 11:43 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Medical Malpractice, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Hepatitis, Colon Cancer, Endoscopy, Defective Drugs

Nevadas Governor Jim Gibbons says inspections might not have helped the public health crisis in las vegas.

Image: Nevada Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons


Speaking to reporters Monday on the question of whether more outpatient clinic inspectors might have found shoddy public health practices sooner, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons questioned whether more frequent inspections are really needed.

“It’s premature for a change like that,” he said.

So far six cases of hepatitis C have been traced to unsafe and unsanitary practices at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

40,000 are still being notified that they should be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said that 14 inspector jobs are vacant at the Bureau of Licensure and Certification. He wants to fill those $60,000 a year jobs as soon as possible, he says and the state may have to use a set-aside fund to do so.

As part of the anti-new tax wave that swept over the 2007 legislature, the Governor cut 10 new surveyor positions. Under challenge from lawmakers he reinstated six new positions. Their salaries are paid by fees charged to the clinics that are the subject of the surveys.

Facing the heat from that decision and questions from critics as to how the Endoscopy Center went seven years without an inspection that is supposed to occur every three, the Governor defended himself.

Regulation is not the answer he told reporters Monday when asked whether Nevada needs more government oversight.

The Governor says there is not enough money to look at every procedure conducted on every patient in the state.

50 surgical centers in the state that have flown under the inspector radar for years are now being surveyed with the state through nearly half of that review.

As of Friday, four other clinics had been cited for practices that put patient health in danger, though no cases of hepatitis have been linked to those clinics. 

Three in northern Nevada and one in Las Vegas will be cited and fined for improper disease prevention protocols according to the state health department.

They include:

  • The Gastrointestinal Diagnostic Center in Las Vegas – repeatedly reused syringes, health officials have found. The business license has been suspended.
  • The Digestive Health Center in Reno – noted for problems with equipment sterilization.
  • St. Mary’s Surgery Center at Galena – inspectors found problems with disinfection of instruments used between patients
  • Sierra Center for Foot Surgery in Carson City – reportedly reused syringes

Later this week, the CDC will send staffers to help with the clinic checks.

Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City and a family practice doctor told the Las Vegas Sun, “Ironically, what caught this was when inspectors went in and observed what was happening. The bottom line is that inspections work.”

The Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada is closed and so far has been fined $3,000.  Clinic owner Dr. Dipak Desai has agreed to voluntarily stop practicing medicine but has not surrendered his medical license. 

Gov. Gibbons says that if anyone there knowingly endangered someone’s life ‘that does constitute a criminal act.” Those involved, he says, will be held accountable.

This is not the first time the  Governor has been criticized for being too close to members of the business community. 

Last year, NBC News investigated his ties to a defense contractor who received tens of million in federal contracts after Gov. Gibbons was seen partying with and taking gifts and trips from the defense contractor. #


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by A Public Servant Forever
Sunday, March 23, 2008 8:06 PM EST

As citizens of our state prepare for the upcoming legislative meeting on the Hepatitis C Health Scare, I think that it is very important that we all stay focused on ensuring that we make our voices heard so that patient healthcare in Nevada can continue to move foreword in the most productive and positive manner. In support of the Bureau of Licensure and Certification and its Bureau Chief, Lisa Jones, it is clear that Lisa Jones was indeed placed in a very tough position, but the one thing that I do admire about her is that she will always tell you the truth. I think that is one of the reasons that the media is also drawn to her, because they know that she is going to be straightforward with them. Lisa stepped up to the Mic, and she told the truth to all of us, she did not try to sugar coat the situation, and she never has. She did not try to place blame, but only give the public the facts; she has always been this way. I don’t want us all to forget who is really to blame here, and that is the physicians, who took a Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, and completely disregarded this oath. These events were eventually going to come to light in our state. As public officials, we are compassionate and caring, but we can’t do our jobs if our hands are tied, and Lisa Jones has made many documented cries for assistance for the bureau both past and present. I just cannot bear witnessing someone as caring and dedicated as Lisa Jones being discredited in the eyes of the public in such a wrongful manner. To Governor Gibbons, and to the members of the public, if we take just a moment to look at the efforts and actions made by Lisa Jones over her 29 years of state service, you will see that Lisa Jones is truly an outstanding public official.

Signed, A Public Servant Forever

Comments for this article are closed.

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