Nevada: Endoscopy Clinic Shut Down
March 3, 2008
On Friday, Las Vegas city inspectors shut down an endoscopy clinic two days after announcing that unsafe syringe usage there may have put patients at risk for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Investigators say clinic staff at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, 700 Shadow Lane, regularly reused syringes and vials of anesthesia on multiple patients.
About 40,000 patients who were treated at the center from March 2004 to Jan. 11, 2008, are being told they should be screened for hepatitis and HIV. This has been called the largest such notification in U.S. history.
The clinics business license is suspended until further notice, said Mayor Oscar Goodman. The four doctors named on the license can appeal the decision to city staff and, in the end, to District Court, he said. The city can also pursue revoking the license. The city set appeals hearings for 1:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Clinic staff told investigators that they knew this technique fell well below accepted medical practice and was dangerous, said Jim DiFiore, the citys business services manager. They were ordered by administrators ... to engage in this practice in order to save money. Some nurses and nurse anesthetists followed, chiefly, Dr. Dipak Desais orders, which put patients at risk, DiFiore said. Others refused, unwilling to risk subjecting patients to life threatening diseases.
The centers staff told us that what we saw was common practice since March 2004, said Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist for the Southern Nevada Health District. By Jan. 12, the clinic changed its syringe practices to accepted standards of care, he said. Officials have not sufficiently documented syringe practice before March 2004, when the clinic was remodeled and expanded.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
3.01.2008; Alan Choate; Paul Harasim