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Nearly 100 Infected with Hepatitis C at Las Vegas Endoscopy Center

May 19, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

To date, officials have linked 84 cases of Hepatitis C that have turned up in Las Vegas to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, where all those infected received treatment.  A CDC report released Friday officially confirms the cause of the outbreak and—based on state and federal officials’ observations of patient procedures at the clinic—details a variety of unsanitary practices, including nurses’ and anesthesiologists’ failing to perform basic hand hygiene when administering intravenous medications.

State health officials contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when two patients treated at the clinic were later diagnosed with Hepatitis C.  The clinic recommended that 50,000 of the clinics’ patients be tested, which is when the 84 cases were confirmed.

The Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada routinely reused syringes on multiple patients, a negligent practice which exposed thousands of patients to blood borne diseases, including Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  All of these diseases are extremely debilitating and can be fatal.  The Hepatitis injury lawyers at our firm want to hold the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada accountable for the gross negligence that occurred there.  It is our contention that the clinic should be responsible for any medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by this negligence.  Our Hepatitis injury lawyers will work hard to ensure victims of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada receive the compensation they deserve.

The Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada is one of the largest such gastroenterology practices in the area.  The center was closed and fined $500,000 after the Nevada State Health Division discovered several cases of hepatitis C that appeared to originate in the clinic earlier this year.  Two of the center’s doctors, including its owner, Depak Desai, have been suspended from practicing medicine.

The outbreak caught the attention of law enforcement authorities, including the Nevada attorney general, who are now undertaking investigations and under the presumption that the clinic may be also guilty of fraud.

Hepatitis C is a blood disorder transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, such as that which occurred when practitioners at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada reused syringes.   Hepatitis C is, for the most part, asymptomatic; however, approximately 70% of those infected will develop serious liver disease.  Hepatitis C is a risk factor for liver cancer and can lead to the need for a liver transplant.

Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV may have been spread when clinic staff reused syringes and used a single dose of anesthesia medication on multiple patients.  A syringe would become contaminated by the backflow of blood when patients with a blood-borne disease were injected with medication. That syringe, in turn, would be reused to withdraw medication from a different vial.  That vial could become contaminated and result in infection.  Several nurses and other practitioners at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada admitted to health investigators that they reused syringes at the direction of the clinic's management.  Reusing syringes violates medical standards for infection control.  Our Hepatitis injury lawyers will work hard to make sure the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada is held accountable for this negligence.

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