Suit Filed Against Clinic for Reusing Syringes

By Matthew Van Atta

Originally published on Advocate.com March 01 2008 1:00 AM ET

A former patient
sued a surgical center believed to have spread hepatitis
C by reusing syringes and vials of medication, saying
Thursday he fears for his health.

The suit comes a
day after the Southern Nevada Health District announced
that unsafe practices at the clinic may have led to six
reported cases of hepatitis C, a potentially fatal
blood-borne virus.

Another 40,000
people who received anesthesia at the Endoscopy Center of
Southern Nevada between March 2004 and January 2008 are
being urged to be tested for hepatitis, strains C and
B, and HIV.

''I feel like a
ticking time bomb. I'll get tested ASAP, but since HIV
can lay dormant for many years, my wife and I face a future
of uncertainty and fear,'' according to a statement
from the plaintiff, Charles Anthony Rader Jr., who
says he received treatment during that period and may
have been exposed.

The suit, filed
in the eighth judicial district court of Nevada, alleges
gross negligence and seeks punitive damages ''in excess of
$10,000'' per patient.

Nancy Katz, a
spokeswoman hired by the center, did not immediately return
a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Las Vegas
attorney Peter Wetherall said other patients have joined the
suit and expect more in the coming days. Nevada law only
requires one plaintiff be identified at the time of
filing a class action lawsuit, he said.

The suit names as
defendants the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada; the
center's chief administrator, Dipak Desai; a center doctor,
Eladio Carrera; as well as any employees who
''directly provided and/or supervised'' unsafe medical
procedures.

The clinic issued
a statement Wednesday saying it had cleaned up its
practices and was cooperating with the health district's
investigation.

Health officials
say they believe the center had been reusing syringes
and vials of anesthesia, exposing its patients to the blood
of others.

Five of those
infected with the virus received treatment at the clinic on
the same day in late September; a sixth is believed to have
been infected in July, health officials
said. (AP)