Endoscopy Hepatitis C: Tragic Stories Are Emerging

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Las Vegas, NVImagine the shock and horror of getting a medical letter addressed to your husband, warning him that he may have contracted hepatitis C from an infected syringe, and recommending he be tested right away.

Imagine if you were that man's wife, opening the letter that suddenly afforded a clue as to the origins of the infection that had taken your husband's life two years before.

According to a news report from the website of KLAS Eyewitness News 8 in Las Vegas, that appears to have happened to Janice Cromwell, who last week launched what was reported to be the first wrongful death lawsuit against the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, after her husband's name was found amongst the 40,000 patients at risk of a hepatitis C infection after the Endoscopy Center was found to be re-using syringes.

SyringesThe woman's husband, James Ray Cromwell, passed away in May of 2006 of liver disease 'secondary to hepatitis C,' according to the official cause of death. The wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that Cromwell contracted hepatitis C at the Endoscopy Center. While the loving father and grandfather had battled health problems in the past, before his treatments at the clinic, his widow alleges, Cromwell's blood work showed no sign of hepatitis C.

He died a month after doctors discovered and diagnosed hepatitis C. What makes the story even more compelling is that from the time he was diagnosed in April of 2006, until January of this year, neither the family nor their doctors had any clue as to how James Ray had contracted the deadly infection--not until the letter arrived in the mail. His name was on a list of some 40,000 Endoscopy Center patients at risk for hepatitis C, and notified by letter in January.

Cromwell's widow was reported to be planning to file a police report, with hope that the District Attorney's office will charge the clinic's doctor with second-degree murder. Meanwhile that same doctor, Dr. Dipak Desai who owns the Endoscopy Center, finds himself linked to yet another confirmed hepatitis C case stemming from another clinic he owns.

The patient, who tested negative for hepatitis C not long before undergoing a procedure at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, was diagnosed with acute hepatitis C several weeks after the procedure. The patient represents the 7th confirmed case of hepatitis C linked to two endoscopy centers owned by Dr.Desai.

The Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada remains at the center of the hepatitis C outbreak, after the clinic was found to be routinely re-using syringes on multiple patients, albeit with clean needles each time. The center is also accused of reusing single-dose vials of anesthesia, on multiple patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently did a sweep of some 50 such small medical centers throughout Nevada.

A potential class action against the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada is being investigated.

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