Murder Charges Filed|in Hep C Outbreak

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – The much-sued doctor at the center of Nevada’s hepatitis C outbreak faces murder charges now, after a grand jury indicted him and two anesthetists on a second-degree murder charge, after the death of a patient.
     Arraignment was set for Aug. 22 for Dr. Dipak Desai, 62, and the two nurse anesthetists, Keith Mathahs, 76, and Ronald Lakeman, 65.
     If convicted, they face up to 10 years to life in prison.
     Health officials accused Desai and his clinic, the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, of reusing single-use vials of Propofol on patients, to save money.
     At least seven patients were infected with hepatitis C, and officials say at least 106 more cases are “possibly linked.”
     State health officials notified 40,000 former patients of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada about possible exposure to blood-borne diseases. Similar notifications followed for patients of the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center.
     The murder indictment follows a 28-count indictment from June 2010 that accused the three men of racketeering, patient neglect and insurance fraud. Trial in that case is set for Oct. 22.
     Desai’s lawyers argued that he was not suitable to stand trial because of a series of strokes, but the state’s medical experts concluded he was competent to stand trial.     
     Desai was since 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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