Doctor in Hep C Breakout Pleads Not Guilty

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – The doctor at the center of Southern Nevada’s hepatitis C outbreak two years ago pleaded not guilty Friday to felony charges of racketeering, insurance fraud and patient neglect. Trial for Dipak Desai was set for March 14, 2011.

     Desai is accused of ordering his workers to reuse single-use vials of anesthetic and needles on patients at his Endoscopy Clinic of Southern Nevada and infecting at least nine patients with hepatitis C.
     The judge on Friday also denied a bail reduction request for one of Desai’s co-defendants, Keith Mathahs. A third defendant, Robert Lakeman, was arrested Tuesday in Georgia.
     A criminal investigation was launched after the Southern Nevada Health District disclosed the hepatitis C outbreak in 2008. The agency linked hepatitis C cases to Desai’s Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.
     More than 40,000 former patients were asked to get tested for AIDS and hepatitis B and C.
     Aside from the criminal charges, Desai will also face several thousand former patients who flooded Clark County Court with medical malpractice lawsuits against him.
     Desai was ordered to give up his license to practice medicine, and he has filed for bankruptcy. His attorneys say he has suffered a series of strokes since the hepatitis C outbreak.

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