A settlement between Dr. Dipak Desai and a former patient suing him for a hepatitis C infection should have little effect on the dozens of other cases against the doctor and his medical clinics, two lawyers said Monday.
Patient Michael Washington and his wife, Josephine, agreed to drop their lawsuit against Desai under the confidential settlement made public in court filings Thursday. The couple's case against drug manufacturers and other doctors and nurses goes on, however.
The settlement amount was not disclosed, and lawyers for Desai want the figure sealed from public view, according to court papers.
Lawyers for other patients suing Desai and his clinics, including the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, said their cases are unaffected by the settlement.
"It really has no bearing on any of the other cases," said Marni Rubin with the law firm Mainor Eglet Cottle.
Health authorities say that Washington, a retiree with diabetes, contracted hepatitis when he underwent a colonoscopy at the clinic on July 25, 2007. Records show that Desai, along with a registered nurse and a nurse anesthetist, were in the room with Washington during the procedure.
Rubin and lawyer Will Kemp pointed out that the settlement amount was likely no more than $350,000 plus costs for future medical treatment, which is the state's legal cap for damages in medical malpractice cases.
The settlement will be paid by Nevada Mutual Insurance Co., which covered Desai and his clinics. Desai's personal malpractice insurance coverage was $3 million, and his clinics had similar policies, Kemp said.
Factor in Desai's personal wealth, and there should be enough cash for other infected patients, he said.
"Just because he's run out of insurance doesn't mean you can't get any money out of the guy," Kemp said.
About 300 former clinic patients have active lawsuits claiming they were infected with hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases at Desai's clinics.
After the bad cases are weeded out, about 200 would be left, Rubin estimated.
"One way or another we'll find a way to get them compensated," she said.
Lawyers for the Washingtons and Desai did not return calls for comment.
Health officials have linked nine hepatitis C cases to the clinics and said another 105 cases were "possibly related."
Public health investigators blamed the outbreak on nurse anesthetists reusing single-dose medicine vials among patients. The vials, they say, became contaminated when nurses used a syringe more than once on the same patient.
Contact reporter Brian Haynes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0281.