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Thousands May Be Infected With Hepatitis C from Las Vegas Clinic

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 28, 2008 12:17 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Medical Malpractice, Hepatitis C, Infection Control

Las Vegas patients receiving sedative received the drug using the same syringe. Now at least six are infected with hepatitis C and the health department is telling thousands they must be tested.

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It is thought that thousands of patients may be carrying the hepatitis C virus after they received medical care at a Las Vegas outpatient clinic over the last four years. 

A Clark County investigation has found the clinic was not using clean syringes for each patient anesthetized there.

All six have been diagnosed with acute hepatitis C, a blood-borne infectious disease that infects the liver.

Ensuing chronic hepatitis can result in cirrhosis and liver cancer. There is no vaccine against hepatitis C.

Investigators have found patients received multiple shots using the same syringe from other patients, dipped back into the vials that allowed infection to spread.  Five of the six hepatitis C victims had the procedure on the same day.

Anyone getting an injection from a multiple use vial needs to know how it can happen:

A clean syringe is used to draw sedative from a vial.

  • It is then given to a patient previously infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Backflow into the syringe contaminates it with HCV.

  • The needle is replaced but the syringe is reused to draw additional sedative from the same vial for the same patient contaminating the vial with HCV.

  • A clean needle and syringe are used for a second patient but the contaminated vial is reused. Subsequent patients are at risk for infection.

The Southern Nevada Health District has sent warnings to all patients who visited the clinic, the Endoscopy Center of Nevada. There is a chart in the warning showing the mode of infection. 

The problems occurred March 2004 to last January. It’s estimated about 40,000 patients visited the clinic.

Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist at the district says “This is the way they did things at the clinic. It’s the way they have always done things” he tells the New York Times.

The blood borne disease, hepatitis C can remain dormant with no symptoms for many years even while it causes damage to the body. However liver damage, jaundice and fatigue are the symptoms. The disease is generally transmitted by sharing contaminated syringes.

Unsafe infection control is a growing public health problem as a mode to transmit HIV and hepatitis.

Of particular concern are the multi-dose vials common in many medications and vaccines to keep costs down by reducing waste. They are also more likely to spread contamination than single-dose vials.

In New York last year, Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, an anesthesiologist in Nassau County, told health officials that he would reuse a syringe to draw medications for patients from more than one vial. Blood backed up on the used syringe could enter a multi-dose vial, potentially spreading infection when that vial was used again. 

In that case, state health officials had to notify more than 600 patients to be tested for hepatitis C.

And in 2002, an outbreak of hepatitis C in a Norman, Oklahoma pain clinic found at least 52 people were infected after a nurse used the same needle and syringe to give drugs to many patients.

Three cases of hepatitis C were traced to a New York City anesthesiologist in 2007 who administered pain medication in the same way.

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.

A multi-dose vial should always have medication withdrawn with a clean syringe and needle.

Whenever possible, CDC recommends that single-use vials be used and that multi-dose vials of medication be assigned to a single patient to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Patients can ask their clinic or medical practice about infection control procedures to make sure they are following safe injection practices. #


10 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Diane Tanger R.N.
Thursday, February 28, 2008 7:55 PM EST

Any medical personnel needing instruction on administering medication should not be allowed to treat patients. Close the hospital-clinic- they are harming patients.

Anonymous User
Posted by Clare
Friday, February 29, 2008 9:35 AM EST

It is shocking that such "incidents" can happen at the beginning of the 3rd millennium.
How can we trust then the medication and the people who work in hospitals???

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, February 29, 2008 1:58 PM EST

We've heard from medical professionals who were trained during WWII who say this is shocking, they would never reuse a syringe on a multidose vial for a new patient. They simply were not trained that way.

Anonymous User
Posted by Clare
Friday, February 29, 2008 4:01 PM EST

The WW2 is over and lots of things has changed since then. It is not about training. The medical stuff as many other stuffs in the world really have to acquire new technologies and new methods.
They even did not know about HCV and HIV when the WW2 happened.
It is nonsense how can we close our eyes in things like this.
Just think a little about the age of those "medical professionals" who were trained during WW2. Are they still working?- I do not think so.

Anonymous User
Posted by Angie
Saturday, March 01, 2008 12:36 PM EST

I'm a 23-year-old grad student who had an endoscopy there to diagnose ulcers this January. I go in for testing today, but I thought I'd ask (since you appear to be the people who know) what can I do to be a part of shutting down this operation? I have already written a letter to the mayor and the attorney general as well as joined the class action suit. Is there anything else I should be involved in?

Anonymous User
Posted by love
Saturday, March 01, 2008 9:49 PM EST

"doctors" need to be put in jail and there practicing liscence should be revoked. they should be convicted for attempt to murder.
i mean they were trying to save money.
syringes=not expensive. ohhh and they care about making money more than caring for other people's lives

Anonymous User
Posted by Justin Ellison
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 9:47 PM EST

All i have to say is that this is an "epidemic" i live in las vegas nv and it is very scary to say i might be one pf the people infected. how can a hospital be so careless about their patience? it is very heart breaking to all the people who once had a life that are now diseased. God bless to all

Posted by HeppersHelper
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 6:24 PM EST

People need to know that there are safe, effective alternatives to the Brain Damage you will get when the doctor prescribe the "treatment" that earns 10k or more as a "gift" from the pharmaceutical company.

google Hep C Solutions for more info

Anonymous User
Posted by Sal
Thursday, March 13, 2008 2:31 AM EST

If this is true EVERYONE involved in using used syringes should be charged with murder/homicide and rot in prison with regular inmates NOT club fed where well to do go.

This doesnt even happen in 3ed world countries anymore .

I am sure all these people who might be infected are non rich thus considered trash .

Posted by Surecure
Friday, March 21, 2008 7:31 PM EST

For those who have been exposed to disease at the
Nevada clinics;

Orthodox doctors say there is no cure for Hepatitis C; and only drugs like Interferon and Ribavirin may help; but they have sickening side effects, and are not always effective, and they are very expensive treatments. The disease causes great suffering.

There is a better, less costly, and more effective way. Go to LINK
and download the book. It costs only $14.95.
It will tell you absolutely how to get rid of Hepatitis. The disease may be cured in 2-4 days.

God bless you very much, Surecure.

Comments for this article are closed.

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