Endoscopy Center: "You Put Your Trust in the Doctor"

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Florence, KYMuch like other patients treated at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, Joe P. has had very stressful days. He was recently informed-- by a letter--that he needed to be treated for HIV and Hepatitis because he had a procedure at the Endoscopy Center. Luckily, Joe's test results came back negative. But, like many people, Joe is upset that he was ever exposed to such diseases.

Patients can be referred to an endoscopy center for a variety of reasons. In Joe's case, he was referred to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada to be tested for colon cancer. It was the only time that he received any services from the center, but it was enough to put him at risk for HIV and Hepatitis because staff at the center was reusing syringes and vials.

Syrninges and Vials"When the story [about the Endoscopy Center] broke, my wife looked at me and said, 'I'm glad you don't go there any more.' But a couple of weeks ago, I got a letter from the Air Force base [who referred him to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and had his contact information because he had been moved to a new Air Force base] and I read it and just thought 'Oh my God.'

"I got the letter at 4:30 on Friday and had to leave a message with my doctor. I kept thinking that this could affect my whole family. I went to the doctor Monday morning and showed him the letter. I won't say that it's embarrassing, but it certainly felt uncomfortable to get HIV and Hepatitis tests because some place in Las Vegas took short cuts. That was bad.

"After the test it was always in the back of my mind that I could have those diseases. I wondered about what could happen if I tested positive. After I got the initial letter, I googled the center and it said that the confirmed cases of Hepatitis occurred in July 2004 and September 2004. I checked my records and I had my procedure in August 2004, during the time that the confirmed cases occurred. So now I had that extra worry that I had been there the same time as the other cases.

"Thankfully, the results came back negative and because it had been so long—almost four years—I was told I do not require further testing.

"That Friday night when we got the letter, my wife and I were nervously upset because of our kids. We did not want to pass anything onto them. We were more upset about the possibility that we could pass anything to our 8-year-old and 10-year-old and worried about how it would affect their life than we were about our own health.

"You put your trust in the doctor or the medical offices you go to. You expect them to give you the same quality of care that they would want for themselves and their family members. Would they share needles or vials if it was their family members being treated?"

Patients who were treated at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada are now investigating a possible lawsuit against the center and its doctors, alleging that their health was put at risk because vials and syringes were reused to save money.

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