Monday, Dec. 21, 2009 | 10:50 a.m.
Health officials released today a long-awaited report that details the cause of a Las Vegas colonoscopy center that caused the largest health-care facility related Hepatitis C outbreak in the history of the United States.
The investigation, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the Nevada State Health Division Bureau of Licensure and Certification, found that unsafe practices were used that could have exposed patients to blood-borne pathogens.
Nine cases of Hepatitis C and 106 were possibly-linked to the clinic, which passed along infection by reusing syringes and single-use medicine vials. The outbreak required health officials to urge about 50,000 patients that they needed to be tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
The report described the possible exposures to disease as “preventable,” saying that they “would not have occurred if clinic staff had adhered to well-established, safe, and common sense injection practices.”
The clinic's majority owner, Dipak Desai, a former member of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, is under multiple investigations related to the case.
As many as 63,000 patients were potentially exposed to blood-borne diseases.
Health officials estimated the cost of the investigation, counseling, testing and response to be between $16 and $21 million.
The report details the inner-workings of his clinic, where sources tell the Sun he managed with a heavy hand and implemented cost-cutting measures that may have been unsafe for patients.
Sun reporter Erin Dostal contributed to this report