Doctor in Hep C Outbreak Indicted on 28 Counts

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – The doctor at the center Southern Nevada’s hepatitis C outbreak was indicted Friday on 28 criminal counts. Dipak Desai ran endoscopy clinics where health officials say nurses were ordered to reuse syringes and single-use vials of anesthesia on patients, causing at least seven people to contract hepatitis C in 2007.

     Two of Disai’s former nurse anesthetists, Ronald Lakeman and Keith Mathahs, also were charged with the same 28 criminal counts, which include felony charges of racketeering, insurance fraud, patient neglect and insurance fraud.
     Officials say Desai and his co-defendants ran a scheme from June 2005 to May 2008 whereby they pressured employees “to falsify patient anesthesia records from various endoscopic procedures … and commit insurance fraud” by submitting “false anesthesia records to various insurance companies.”
     He’s also accused of ordering his workers to reuse single-use vials of propofol and needles on patients, “contrary to the express product labeling of said drug and in violation of universally accepted safety precautions.”
     The judge set Desai’s bail at $1 million, and ordered him to surrender his passport, according to published reports. Bail for his two co-defendants was set at $500,000 each.
     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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