March 06, 2008

Vegas Clinic May Have Sickened Thousands

As I continue to recover from a serious illness myself, I am alarmed when I read stories about irresponsible and disgusting medical facilities that in this day and age would think it was safe to reuse a syringe! From Breitbart:

Nearly 40,000 people learned this week that a trip to the doctor may have made them sick. In a type of scandal more often associated with Third World countries, a Las Vegas clinic was found to be reusing syringes and vials of medication for nearly four years. The shoddy practices may have led to an outbreak of the potentially fatal hepatitis C virus and exposed patients to HIV, too.

The discovery led to the biggest public health notification operation in U.S. history, brought demands for investigations and caused scores of lawyers to seek out patients at risk for infections.

Thousands of patients are being urged to be tested for the viruses. Six acute cases of hepatitis C have been confirmed. The surgical center and five affiliated clinics have been closed.

In Las Vegas, clinic staff told inspectors they had been ordered by management to reuse the vials and syringes.

Investigators were told the practice was an attempt to cut costs, according to a letter of complaint from the city, which revoked the facility's business license Friday. Five other facilities affiliated with the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada also had their licenses revoked.

The clinic's majority owner, Dipak Desai, a political contributor and member of the governor's commission on health care, has refused to comment on the allegations.

He released a statement expressing concern for the patients and assuring the public the problems had been corrected. He later took out a full-page ad in Sunday's edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal insisting that needles had not been reused and that the chances of contracting an infection at the center in most of the last four years were "extremely low."