Hepatitis C investigation defended

The Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners sent a letter to two lawmakers Friday defending its investigation of physicians linked to the hepatitis C outbreak.

The four-page letter signed by Donald Baepler, the board's secretary-treasurer and acting president during the investigation, addressed concerns raised by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, and Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas.

Leslie and Horsford have publicly criticized the medical board's investigation and accused board Executive Director Tony Clark of responding to physicians' concerns and not the public's.

Regarding allegations that Clark did not take swift action against Dr. Dipak Desai and other the physicians who co-owned the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, the letter states: "Your accusations as to the competency of the Board's Executive Director, while I am sure are well-intentioned, are based upon inaccurate information."

Immediately after learning of the "crisis," Clark instructed the board's investigative division to launch a probe, which included issuing subpoenas for medical records from the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada on Shadow Lane for all patients infected, the letter states.

Leslie and Horsford asked in an earlier letter for assurances that the board "not impede" authorities looking into the public health crisis.

Contact reporter Annette Wells at awells @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.