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Reusing Syringes “Common Practice” at Las Vegas Clinics

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, February 29, 2008 12:59 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Malpractice, Medical Negligence, Medical Devices, Wrongful Death

The first lawsuit has been filed and likely a class action will develop from a public health crisis in Las Vegas.

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The story just keeps getting worse from Las Vegas where a group-owned clinic reused syringes and failed to properly clean equipment for colonoscopies. 

In the drive for profits, many medical facilities are consolidating and reusing equipment, but those cost-saving procedures may have put thousands in jeopardy of contracting the infectious blood disease hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.  

So far six former patients of the Endoscopy Center of Nevada have been diagnosed with the infectious liver disease hepatitis C for which there is no cure.  The health department found they had all visited the Endoscopy Center and now is urging  40,000 patients who visited the center over a two year period be tested for hepatitis C and B as well as HIV.

A public health crisis has gripped the city according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman is calling for the Endoscopy Center to be shut down after health inspectors reveal that syringes were being reused in multi-dose vials of medication infecting the vial, which would then be used on another patient.

Health officials say it was a "common practice" at the facility.

One man reportedly showed up at the doorstep of the Endoscopy Center at 7:30, very upset at the facility, which he thinks should pay for his testing.

"These people have to be shut down. What they've done to people is disgusting and horrendous. I've got a wife and three kids, and I'm so worried that I'm going to pass something on to them," he said to the local paper.

The first medical negligence lawsuit has been filed in District Court by a former patient of the Endoscopy Center. Charles Anthony Rader, 53, went into the Endoscopy Center to be tested for an unknown stomach ailment.

His attorney J. Stewart White tells IB News he visited the clinic a couple of times over a  year ago.

“He just learned yesterday and he had to pull over on the road and felt like throwing up,” White says.  Rader, a former Air Force medic now must be tested for infectious disease as must his wife.

“Can you imagine the emotional torment and distress that results. You actually have to be tested and wait for the test results and there is an incubation period of time when you just don’t know” he says.

Rader’s case is expected to be the first in a class action negligence lawsuit filed by White, Meany and Wetherall of Las Vegas.

The suit names the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, LLC and Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada II LLC as well as the clinic's doctor, Dr. Eladio Carrera and the doctor who is a majority owner of the facility, Dipak Desai who has not spoken publicly about the incident. Another facility he owns has been inspected but there were no deficiencies found there.

As more patient procedures are sent to outpatient clinics, White says, these facilities need to be certified like hospitals.

“The truth is they have fancy machines but personnel are not as rigorously trained or the facility inspected. It’s not surprising they are cutting corners and the insurance companies think it’s great.”

State officials say it is unlikely that the Endoscopy Center will be shut down or its affiliated center also operating with “similar deficiencies.”

That center, the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center performs colonoscopies and was recently cited for deficiencies such as re-using cleaning fluids from colonoscopy tubes.    

The Southern Nevada Health District was flooded with calls Thursday. The law office of White, Meany & Wetherall will hold an informational meeting for everyone who may have visited the clinics on Sunday 5 p.m. at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.

The Endoscopy center will receive a sanction from the state licensing bureau but is not expected to be required to shut down but rather to follow correction plans.

The CDC is in Las Vegas performing lab work in the case. 

The CDC reports that healthcare providers or anyone administering injections should never reuse a needle or syringe either from one patient to another or to withdraw medicine from a vial.   Both needle and syringe are to be thrown away once they have been used.  It is not safe just to change the needle and reuse the syringe.

Whenever possible, CDC recommends that single-use vials be used. #


23 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Joy McArthur RN
Friday, February 29, 2008 5:40 PM EST

If what you discribe in this article is true, it is criminal neglegence. Anyone involved in this should be prosecuted. It is not as if Physicians and other health care professionals don't know the potential harm here.

Anonymous User
Posted by Meli
Friday, February 29, 2008 5:58 PM EST

This is horrible! My mother took a test for this about a year ago and now all of this comes out, how could they commit such a hanous crime? This is absolute monstrousity and the people behind this should be prosecuted to the full extent of their crimes!

Anonymous User
Posted by Christopher
Friday, February 29, 2008 10:20 PM EST

Is it possible to give the death penalty to those responsible for such irresponsible behavior? What a horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE injustice they have done.

And to give them life imprisonment for a crime that cost so many people their lives, is far more of an injustice.

SHAME ON THEM.

Anonymous User
Posted by Dr. Dan
Saturday, March 01, 2008 9:43 AM EST

I wonder if the State of Nevada has an anonymous hotline to report medical malpractice. I bet they don't. I am a clinical ethicist. I know that medical staff are often left with no alternatives for reporting such violations. To whom does one turn when there is no one to turn to? I can almost guarantee you that none of the staff have had any medical ethics education or refresher training.

Anonymous User
Posted by Sue Baeta
Saturday, March 01, 2008 3:13 PM EST

I think this testifys to the need to increase wages of nurses and technicians who are Americans so that we do not wave citizenship and immagration laws to get Phillipino and East Indian medical personell over here to fill an ever increasing gap. Nursing homes are filled with personnel that lack the upbringing and moral education available to USA students.

Anonymous User
Posted by Grace Dy
Saturday, March 01, 2008 6:54 PM EST

Sue Beata, that was one of those most racist thing I've heard. If both of these doctors later on were found to be American trained what of it? It doesn't matter where they're from- it is the doctors and the managements fault for failing to comply or train the staff in OSHA and clinical practices. Even the most basic Medical Assistant course at a local community college teaches you about syringe and needle handling.

Anonymous User
Posted by Ron
Saturday, March 01, 2008 11:40 PM EST

These poor people were given a death sentence. Not only will they have to fight the corrupt syndicate called the health care system, but now they, and their families, will have to live with the stigma that gays and drug addicts go through, every day.

Anonymous User
Posted by Allan Schneider
Sunday, March 02, 2008 6:46 PM EST

On February 19 2008 my wife had a colonoscopy procedure done at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center. Having read some of these articles I am thoroughly disgusted and suspect that the problem of cutting corners to increase profits is much further reaching than any lay person can really imagine. I suspect that this not just one facility. It is just one that got caught. I suspect we are talking "Corporate" decisions here since the people investigated told investigators they knew it was wrong but that the decision to cut corners to increase profits came from administrators and management. Most of my paperwork from February 19 lists multiple facilities affiliated in one way or another with this one including the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. If the decisions came from above as stated, is it not logical that all facilities under that jurisdiction would have received the same set of instructions. We also signed a document indicating that the attending doctor who never really showed up for the surgery had a financial interest in the facility and in my mind is therefore also suspect in the decision to cut corners in the interest of profit. This does need to be looked into but by whom. Had it not hit the press, does anyone out there really believe state government would be digging into it? I think not. Whose on our side people? Nobody.

Anonymous User
Posted by JM Potratz
Monday, March 03, 2008 1:13 PM EST

Government that governs LEAST governs BEST. That is why it no longer inspects our meat, our medicines, our voting machines, our military expenditures, and so on, and so on, until most of us are sick to death of it. After years of Reagan, and Bush 1 and The Dummy, this country is almost unrecognizable as the United States. We condone the torture prisoners, deny healthcare to children, imprison foreign teenagers without charges, give billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations and their owners, strangle the education system, abuse destitute immigrants, invaded an innocent country to steal its resources, and worse, all in the name of The People. I am glad my ancestors can't see what is going on here today. They would want someone HUNG by the neck until dead.

Anonymous User
Posted by Ally H.
Monday, March 03, 2008 8:58 PM EST

just sickening, really. as a resident of las vegas i now have to worry every time i take my children to see a doctor, or even see a doctor myself. i suggest everyone get tested whether they were treated there or not. even when you feel protected against things like that you arent. it really is sad when you can't even trust the people that are supposed to be helping you. my heart goes out to all of those infected.

Anonymous User
Posted by Carolyn A.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 12:26 PM EST

I had a procedure done in the fall of 2006 - at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center - Now I have to worry if I'm infected - and to find out that they were just cited for reusing cleaning solutions in the colonoscopy tubes is aggregious to say the least. That is totally disgusting. Now I have to worry if I've been exposed to hepatitis C, B and Aids? I not only hold the clinic, the owners, the doctors responsible - but the nurse practitioners - who should have known better than to reuse the equipment. Just because they were following instructions doesn't exonerate them. They also knew better - and which is more important - saving a job or saving a life - They all should be cited for attempted homicide - wreckless endangerment - and they should pay for all the stress and testing and disease management that this practice incurred.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jon Miller
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 3:26 PM EST

Well, if you've been to this center you've been warned, because you know that you've been exposed to infected blood (through the multi-use vial of sedative). But the rest of us, who've been somewhere else, who've had other procedures done, don't know what we might have been exposed to and when. The rest of us are just trying to see what other corners are being cut where and what disaster is waiting to happen.

It's the problem with mixing business with care. There's an inherent conflict and business will always win because people are genetically programmed to be optimistic. Therefore the "it'll turn out ok" idea will always win (in enough people's minds) that unsafe practices will creep in unless prohibited by regulations.

In fact, this clinic may have not wanted to cut this particular corner (I don't know the particulars of their decision-making process). They might have decided that it isn't safe, but discovered that their competitors were cutting this corner and they couldn't compete if they didn't cut it too. I've seen it happen (not in health care, I don't consult with health care companies).

Or they may have been first, have discovered that by cutting this cost they had a cost advantage over their competitors and could grow and profit by exploiting this cost advantage.

That's why "health care providers" should be somewhat insulated from the marketplace. "Best practices" should be patient related, not profit related. And limitations on malpractice awards should definitely be related to limitations on health care provider profits (let's get real here, folks -- if you want caps on "non-economic" damages, then you'd better put caps on your greed, too).

Anonymous User
Posted by L Carlile
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 10:28 PM EST

Because this facility knowingly and purposefully committed this CRIME against their patients, they
should be charged with "murder" since many of these
patients will DIE!

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 10:50 PM EST

Hello All-

I believe it bears repeating here. Taking your health into your own hands is possible with information. But you have to speak up! Insist on single vials. Insist that you see a fresh needle AND syringe. In the case here, fresh needles and syringes wouldn't help because the vial was contaminated! So the single vial is very important. Insist on all three! After a scare like this, it is not at all unreasonable to INSIST that your insurer cover the extra cost.

Anonymous User
Posted by Tassos
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 1:29 AM EST

In the last two years, the FBI has investigated various food safety recalls to determine whether criminal negligence was present. In light of that fact, how much more does the FBI need to warrant an investigation of these clinics, given that 40,000 people possibly have been exposed to HIV, Hep B, Hep C?

Anonymous User
Posted by Cassie
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 2:46 PM EST

What happened to these people who were treated at this facility is atrocious, however, we cannot forget all the other people who have come incontact with these patients. Family members, co-workers, and/or those who have had unprotected sex with these patients. Usually when someone is diagnosed with these illnesses, they make you fill out a form with the personal information of anyone you have had close personal contact with in the hopes of letting others know they might be infected. 40,000 people in 4 years have been treated at this facility by medical professionals who should have known better. Imagine how big that number grows when you factor in who the patients themselves might have unintentionally infected.

This is Scary.

Anonymous User
Posted by Ben
Saturday, March 08, 2008 2:38 PM EST

These "Doctors" should loose their license to practice medicine FOREVER! This is unexcusable.

Anonymous User
Posted by sue
Sunday, March 09, 2008 12:07 PM EST

This is unacceptable but it happens more than anyone likes to think. I used to work in a Dentist office on Madison Ave, Ny where people will pay big bucks to see a Doctor I was the Doctors assistant and when ever he was away on vacation I would have to go through every drawer and tidy up well imagine my horror when i discovered blood encrusted matrix band holders these things are meant to be disposed of and he was saving them gross! I showed the receptionist and then trew them out! A week later he asked me for those very ones while a patient was in the chair I pretended not to have seen them imagine that he probably would have used them. I should have reported him but I was young at the time. I used to order the supplies for him and the cost of a dozen matrix band holders was about $4.00 at the time wow put peoples health at risk for that real petty. He also used to dig through the drawer with dirty gloves to get instruments while the patient was in the chair.

Anonymous User
Posted by Miss Gates
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 6:03 AM EST

One of my best friends lives in Las Vegas and she informed me about the tragedy that they are going through right now. As a health official I am deeply saddened how this horrible act was practiced for so long and no one took the initiative to come out and say something. We as Americans put way too much trust in out health care system and for something so tragic to happen in this country makes me sick to my stomach. My sympathy goes out for all persons affected by the harsh and cruel treatment from that sickening clinic.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 5:48 PM EST

I'm wondering if whistleblower protections for people who report bad practitioiners is not a bad idea.

It appears that most people are reluctant to speak up for fear of losing their jobs.

If the state is serious, it would offer some protections to these folks. Federal whistleblowers actually get a percentage of whatever is recovered. Whether financial or job protection, something should be available for people who have a conscience and want to do the right thing.

Anonymous User
Posted by Cathy
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 6:28 PM EST

This is really sad. I am actually about 12 years old and I was looking this up because my older sis told me about this just yesterday and I had remembered that I went to a clinic on Shadow Lane but Im scared if that's one of the clinics. I heard that one of the clinics were on Shadow Lane. I had went there last year for flu shots and Im worried if I have hepititas. I told my closest friends and now they're freaked out too, and they're now worried about me.(sigh)I... just want to be ok.

Anonymous User
Posted by Debbie, RN
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:16 PM EST

Who ever reads this please believe that every person in that facility that knew those syringes were being reused and equipment not cleaned properly are equally responsible. FIRST DO NO HARM....Sound familiar? I mean housekeeping up to the CEO!

Anonymous User
Posted by jose "el cantinero"
Monday, March 17, 2008 1:21 PM EST

Just let put some serum or plasma with infected liquids in the blood system of this doctors. Lets infect them with several types of hepatitis and hiv and revoke their licence and let themm root in a 3 x3 foot cellar until their soul bleed out everything.
or lets feed the dogs with their flesh.

Comments for this article are closed.

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