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Las Vegas clinic may have sickened up to 40 thousand people (Hep C & HIV)

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Las Vegas clinic may have sickened up to 40 thousand people (Hep C & HIV)

Old 03-06-08, 12:41 AM
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Las Vegas clinic may have sickened up to 40 thousand people (Hep C & HIV)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080306/...titis_exposure

By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 17 minutes ago

LAS VEGAS - 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.

"I find it baffling, frankly, that in this day and age anyone would think it was safe to reuse a syringe," said Michael Bell, associate director for infection control at the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the infected patients is retired airplane mechanic Michael Washington, 67, who was the first to report his infection. On the advice of his doctor, he received a routine colon exam in July at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

In September, he started to get sick. He was losing weight fast. His urine turned dark. His stomach hurt. By January, it was clear what had happened.

Washington describes his virus as a "creeping death sentence" and worries that others will hear his story and think twice before getting preventive care they need.

In letters that began arriving this week, patients who received injected anesthesia at the endoscopy center from March 2004 to mid-January were urged to get tested for hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

Because all three viruses are transmitted by blood, they could have been passed from one patient to the next by the unsafe practices at the clinic.

The mass notification is the result of a health district investigation that began in January when officials linked an uptick of unusual hepatitis C cases to the clinic.

Health officials say they are most worried about the spread of hepatitis C, which targets the liver but shows no symptoms in as many as 80 percent of infections.

Hepatitis C results in the swelling of the liver and can cause stomach pain, fatigue and jaundice. It may eventually result in liver failure. Even when no symptoms occur, the virus can slowly cause damage to the liver
.

Officials estimate that 4 percent of the patients already had the virus when they entered the clinic, compared with 0.5 percent for hepatitis B and less than 0.5 percent for HIV. Hepatitis C also is easier to transmit than HIV, they said.

"You put the two together and hepatitis C is really our big concern," said Brian Labus, senior epidemiologist at the Southern Nevada Health District.

Health inspectors say they observed clinic staff using the same syringe twice to extract anesthesia from a single vial, which was then inappropriately used to treat more than one patient. The practice allows contaminated blood in a used syringe to taint the vial and infect the next patient.

Of the six patients so far diagnosed with acute hepatitis C, five received treatment at the clinic on the same day in late September.

Since 1999, the CDC counts 14 hepatitis outbreaks in the U.S. linked to bad injection practices.

The largest outbreak occurred in Fremont, Neb., where 99 cancer patients were infected at an oncology center from 2001 to 2002. At least one died. The doctor involved in the case acknowledged reusing syringes and settled scores of lawsuit. But he never explained why the syringes were reused.

Bell said such improper procedures appear to be more common in outpatient surgical centers like the endoscopy center. Unlike hospitals, such centers often do not have employees whose sole responsibility is to monitor and educate staff on best practices.

In Las Vegas, clinic staff told inspectors they had been ordered by management to reuse the vials and syringes. Labus described the practice as an unwritten, but long-practiced policy.

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."

Of the thousands of people who have rushed to be tested, many will get positive results, Labus said. More than 15,000 people already have called the health district for information.

But it takes a more sophisticated test, a complete evaluation of risk factors and a clear pattern of infection to determine whether the virus was caught at the facility.

Plenty of lawyers are wading into the mess. Television ads called "health alerts" are soliciting clients. At least a handful of class-action lawsuits have been filed.

On Tuesday, the office of Las Vegas attorney Ed Bernstein was buzzing with phone calls nearly 1,000 a day, he said. Bernstein said he represents about 1,200 patients at the facility, eight who have tested positive for hepatitis C.

Washington, the infected airplane mechanic, is one of Bernstein's clients.

His wife, Josephine, a registered nurse, wonders how any health care professional could be so reckless: "To maximize profit? For what? What are you going to save?"

___

On the Net:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/

I hope to God that as few people as possible will have been infected.

But this practice is unforgiveable and those knowingly responsible should be locked away for a long time.

Chris

Last edited by mrpayroll; 03-06-08 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 03-06-08, 01:21 AM
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...and caused scores of lawyers to seek out patients at risk for infections

Oh, thank God. I was getting worried.
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Old 03-06-08, 01:51 AM
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Phew! So the hookers are fine, right?
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Old 03-06-08, 04:51 AM
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In Las Vegas, clinic staff told inspectors they had been ordered by management to reuse the vials and syringes.
It's good to hear people having concern for the environment.
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Old 03-06-08, 07:38 AM
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How retarded(to reuse syringes). They aren't that expensive in the overall scheme of things as far as running an Amb. Surgery Center. People should definitely go to jail over this.
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Old 03-06-08, 08:06 AM
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That's incredibly scary.
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Old 03-06-08, 09:18 AM
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That's what happens when you let the bookkeepers make medical decisions.

I'm not to surprised, though, knowing what "cost cutting measures" were used at the hospital I worked at briefly.
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Old 03-06-08, 09:21 AM
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this was very important to me until i noticed it was in NEVADA.

NM - back to the slums!
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Old 03-06-08, 09:25 AM
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oh... wasnt this the same clinic that recommended to reuse condoms also?


Just turn it inside-out.
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Old 03-06-08, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by bhk
How retarded(to reuse syringes).
It's actually not the case, the article has shoddy reporting. I heard an interview with the lead person charged with tracking down all of the people who were potentially exposed: he stated repeatedly that it wasn't the syringes that were being reused, but rather the vials. Different needles were used each time but as the same vial was being used, people were exposed

It's definitely an academic difference in the grand scheme of things, but it's not as if they were jabbing the same needle into different people.
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Old 03-06-08, 10:26 AM
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Still, people have been unnecessarily infected.

Chris
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Old 03-06-08, 10:30 AM
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How would 2 new seperate clean needles in one vial cause an infection?
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Old 03-06-08, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ANDREMIKE
How would 2 new seperate clean needles in one vial cause an infection?
Backwash?
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Old 03-06-08, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
It's actually not the case, the article has shoddy reporting. I heard an interview with the lead person charged with tracking down all of the people who were potentially exposed: he stated repeatedly that it wasn't the syringes that were being reused, but rather the vials. Different needles were used each time but as the same vial was being used, people were exposed

It's definitely an academic difference in the grand scheme of things, but it's not as if they were jabbing the same needle into different people.
"Health inspectors say they observed clinic staff using the same syringe twice to extract anesthesia from a single vial, which was then inappropriately used to treat more than one patient. "
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Old 03-06-08, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by lotsofdvds
"Health inspectors say they observed clinic staff using the same syringe twice to extract anesthesia from a single vial, which was then inappropriately used to treat more than one patient. "
That directly contradicts what I heard on NPR last night during a 10 minute interview with the doctor heading up the investigation. Here's the story with audio, listen for yourself:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...oryId=87898690

Having said that, as I already pointed out, it doesn't really matter what exatly happened. The fact that people were exposed is absurd no matter what the details were. I'm just saying that I'm hearing different stories on this depending on who's reporting,
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Old 03-06-08, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
How retarded(to reuse syringes). They aren't that expensive in the overall scheme of things as far as running an Amb. Surgery Center. People should definitely go to jail over this.
Jail? Fuck it, they should all be infected with all the shit they gave people. How can you think that this won't come back to bite you in the end?
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Old 03-06-08, 06:47 PM
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as i understand it...

both were done...

changed the needle, but used same syringe... and re-use of vial...

CDC head was discussing it...
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Old 03-06-08, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
as i understand it...

both were done...

changed the needle, but used same syringe... and re-use of vial...

CDC head was discussing it...
What are you, a doctor?

Chris
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Old 03-06-08, 07:13 PM
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And here I thought it had to do with an appearance by Pam Anderson.
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Old 03-06-08, 08:05 PM
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Well, you'd have to add a three more zeros to that number if it was Pam.
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Old 03-06-08, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
What are you, a doctor?

Chris
yes...

yes i am...
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Old 03-06-08, 10:30 PM
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If they wanted to save money, they should have fired a few employees, not reuse disposible items that cost $30 for a box of 50.
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Old 03-06-08, 11:46 PM
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The story posted is detailing the events from last week. Current news here is much more frightening.

Seven clinics in the valley have already been shut down and six more might be shut down by next week.

People are going nuts in this city as the number who may possibly be infected range up to 100,000 once this is said and done.

The shitty thing is that both my mom and I have been to surgery centers in the past few years and my grandfather is going to one tomorrow to remove a tumor.

Luckily, I've been tested for STDs in the past two years, so if I have Hep C or HIV, it's definitely not from the clinic.
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Old 03-07-08, 03:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
yes...

yes i am...
And also familiar with Las Vegas customs, no doubt.

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Old 03-07-08, 12:33 PM
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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.

Hmm, interesting he is a member of the commission on health care.....

Last edited by salamander2; 03-07-08 at 09:13 PM.
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