EXPOSURE FEARED: 40,000 LV Clinic Patients Urged To Be Tested For Viruses

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EXPOSURE FEARED: 40,000 LV clinic patients urged to be tested for viruses

Syringe reuse at Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada 'common practice'




By ANNETTE WELLS and PAUL HARASIM
REVIEW-JOURNAL

CONTACT A REPORTER
E-mail Paul Harasim at pharasim@
reviewjournal.com
or Annette Wells at awells@
reviewjournal.com
.
EXTREME DANGER
HOW TO CONTACT HEALTH DISTRICT
If you or someone you know has received medical services at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada between March 2004 and Jan. 11, 2008, call the Southern Nevada Health District's hot line at 702-759-4636 or visit southernnevada healthdistrict.org.

Graphic by Mike Johnson.

Dr. Lawrence Sands, director of the Southern Nevada Health District, talks at a news conference Wednesday also attended by Brian Labus, the district's senior epidemiologist, and Lisa Jones, chief of the Nevada State Board of Licensure and Certification.
Photo by K.M. Cannon.


Forty thousand Nevadans soon will receive word that they might have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis strains B and C in what a federal health official called the largest notification of its kind in U.S. history.
Patients who visited the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada at 700 Shadow Lane between March 2004 and Jan. 11 are being urged to get tested for the diseases as soon as possible.
Health officials cautioned them to practice safe sex and use condoms.
At a Wednesday afternoon news conference attended by health officials and doctors from the facility, officials said six people diagnosed with acute hepatitis C in recent months received treatment at the center near Valley Hospital Medical Center. They are believed to have been exposed to the disease when anesthesiologists reused syringes to administer medications.
EXTREME DANGER
The Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada is a high-volume gastrointestinal practice where colonoscopies are frequently performed. Reuse of syringes and vials at the facility was a "common practice" undertaken by everyone from doctors to technicians, health officials said.
The business was investigated for other unsafe practices such as not properly cleaning endoscopic equipment used in colonoscopies and upper gastrointestinal procedures.
The medical facility was open for business Wednesday. It could be subject to sanctions or lose its Medicare contract at a later date, state health officials said.
Dr. Eladio Carrera, a gastroenterologist and internal medicine physician at the center, attended the news conference, but he did not address why he and other staffers did not follow correct medical procedures. In a statement, he expressed concern for patients, then refused to take questions.
Dr. Dipak Desai, the center's administrator, was not at the news event and could not be reached later at the office for comment.
LARGEST SUCH NOTIFICATION

LINK: http://www.lvrj.com/news/16067972.html