Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | 5:44 p.m.
CARSON CITY - A judge on Tuesday blocked a Las Vegas doctor linked to a hepatitis C outbreak from practicing medicine pending resolution of a 10-count state Board of Medical Examiners complaint against him.
Clark County District Judge David Wall issued the temporary restraining order against Dr. Dipak Desai, who has been running the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and several other clinics. The order was requested Monday by state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
Masto's office, on behalf of the medical board, also has requested a restraining order against Dr. Eladio Carrera, who worked at and is a co-owner of the center. That request was still pending late Tuesday.
The judge said that the temporary order against Desai was warranted because the Board of Medical Examiners "has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits'' of its complaint against the doctor. He also said "imminent and irreparable harm will result'' if the order isn't issued.
A May 8 court hearing in Las Vegas was scheduled by Wall to determine whether the temporary order should be followed up with a preliminary injunction against Desai.
The complaints against Desai and Carrera describe several cases in which patients at the endoscopy center were treated by the doctors and later were diagnosed with hepatitis C. Both doctors are accused of conduct that put the patients' health and safety at risk.
The doctors also are accused of conduct that brings the medical profession into disrepute, exploiting physician-patient relationships for financial gain, and failing to use ``reasonable care, skill or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances.''
Besides the medical board's activity, state legislators were told last week that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the FBI, Cortez Masto's office and the Clark County district attorney are involved in a criminal probe into the crisis.
The outbreak prompted health officers to advise tens of
thousands of former patients at several clinics to be checked for exposure to hepatitis and HIV.
Authorities blame the infections on the reuse of needles and vials of medication on multiple patients, and say they've traced eight acute cases of hepatitis C to Desai's endoscopy center and to another one he operated. The two clinics have surrendered business licenses and paid a total of $500,000 in fines.
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus, which is usually spread by blood transfusions, blood dialysis and needle sticks. The damage it causes can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.