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Nevada Clinic's Unsafe Practices Lead to 6 Confirmed Hepatitis C Cases

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 by: Jo Hartley
Tags: health clinic, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) An outbreak of six cases of hepatitis C was announced last week. The Endoscopy Center of Nevada is being investigated for the spread of hepatitis C from unsafe practices. The surgical center, as well as five other affiliated clinics, is currently closed. The health center is believed to have spread the viruses by reusing syringes and vials of medication both well-known violations of common safety standards.

Almost 40,000 patients who received care at the center between March 2004 and January 2008 received letters alerting them that they are at risk for exposure and recommending that they be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV.

It has now been discovered that health officials were using an incomplete patient list to notify patients of the clinic exposed to hepatitis and HIV. A Southern Nevada Health District epidemiologist testified that he knew of patients who had been seen at the clinic during that time period who were not on the list of patients notified of the health risks.

The patient list was provided by the center and was formulated from financial records.

Clinic records show that their practice of using single-patient vials of medication to treat more than a single patient has been occurring since March 2004. At that time, the clinic underwent a renovation and expanded their facilities. It is not certain whether the practice had been in place prior to March 2004.

The clinic's majority owner has refused to answer any questions regarding the allegations. He did, however, place a full page advertisement in Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal insisting that the procedure violations had not occurred. He also stated that the chances of contracting an illness at the center during the last 4 years were "extremely low."

At this point, there are six former patients who have tested positive for hepatitis C. Five of the six confirmed cases received treatment on the same day. Individual law suits have been filed on their behalf, as well as a class action lawsuit.

The clinic is also under investigation for possible insurance and Medicare fraud. The clinic is under scrutiny for billing the federal Medicare program for 30 minute appointments that did not last that long. The investigation is now being expanded to include whether or not they billed insurance or Medicare for two vials of medication but used only one.

As a result of the clinic practices now coming into light, 13 other centers have been inspected and syringe and vial reuse was observed by state surveyors. Apparently, the Nevada Licensing Bureau had fallen behind on its inspection schedule. The Endoscopy Center had not been inspected since December 2001. The policy for ambulatory centers is full inspections every three years. The bureau claims it is understaffed.

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons urged the state health division to utilize any resources needed to completely review every center in the state. Disaster funds have also been made available.

About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything!
http://loftymatters.com - Current Events
http://winemaiden.com - Simply Abundant Living

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