Las Vegas Clinic gets caught reusing syringes!!
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28 / F / USA
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Posted 3/7/08
In the biggest public health notification in U.S. history, some 40,000 people are being warned that shoddy medical practices could have exposed them to potentially fatal hepatitis C virus and to HIV.

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 discovery has 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 centre 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.

He 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 centre 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 per cent of infections.

Officials estimate that four per cent of the patients already had the virus when they entered the clinic, compared with 0.5 per cent for hepatitis B and less than 0.5 per cent 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-dose vial, which was then 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.

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-practised 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 last Friday.

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.

Plenty of lawyers are wading into the mess. At least a handful of class-action lawsuits have been filed.


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27 / F / Singapore (:
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Posted 3/8/08

cocoluvnihon wrote:
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 last Friday.


I have been told that a syringe and a vial (to keep blood) costs at the very most US$2. How much cost can the clinic cut? They probably dilute liquid medicine and skip using alcohol to 'cut cost' too. The thought of that is very scary, especially for someone like me who does a blood test every 6 weeks
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Posted 3/8/08
sue them till the clinic's broke and then put the guy who thought of this idea in jail for life.
Posted 3/8/08
Their medical licenses should be taken away forever.
That's so flipping gross.
Posted 3/8/08
Holy shit!!!!!!!! All I can say is, BASTARDS!!! Shame on them.
Posted 3/8/08
Yea, disposable syringes and needles are so cheap, especially compared to the medicine or vaccine actually used for an individual injection, that I have a hard time seeing how they could really save that much money. Absolutely insane.
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24 / M / no where
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Posted 3/8/08
u serious!!!!!!!!!! i liv in las vegas will i ever get it???
Posted 3/18/08
Yeah, I heard that & It's near UMC hospital right?.. For those of you who live in Las Vegas* I live in LV so I've heard it in the news. It's sick and inhumane.. They should know better. Now hundreds, maybe thousands of lives are at stake bcos of their selfishness.
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25 / M / Germany
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Posted 3/18/08
Where's the extended discussion in this? This should be moved to the General section.
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34 / M / Philippines
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Posted 3/18/08
They want their patients infected with viruses. The health officials must be alarmed in this issue
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28 / M / so cal
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Posted 3/19/08
i'm sure they cleaned them with their napkin
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