Injection missteps case ends in settlement deal


A Las Vegas physician accused of injection practices similar to ones that triggered the nation's largest hepatitis C alert must complete a course on sterile technique and provide a medical board with a list of all patients he treated at the Gastrointestinal Diagnostic Clinic on Maryland Parkway.

But in the settlement agreement approved unanimously Thursday by the Nevada State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Scott Young, who was fired by the clinic in March, stopped short of admitting he engaged in the dangerous practice of reusing syringes and vials of single-dose anesthetics on multiple patients.

As part of the settlement order by the board, Young agreed to: "Admit that the syringe practices as described by the complainants ... would constitute unprofessional conduct ... and if such practices were committed ... he (Young) accepts responsibility for his actions."

Brian Labus, the senior epidemiologist for the Southern Nevada Health District, has repeatedly said vials of single-dose medicine and syringes should never be reused because they can transfer tainted blood.

Young also was ordered to keep the board informed of any changes in his medical privileges or status at any of his practice locations.

The doctor, who has continued to work throughout the valley since he was fired in March from the clinic at 3196 S. Maryland Parkway, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Similar behavior to what inspectors alleged Young engaged in was seen by authorities inspecting Dr. Dipak Desai's Endocospy Center of Southern Nevada, resulting in 40,000 clinic patients being notified in February that they should be tested for a infectious diseases.

Nine cases of hepatitis C have been linked to Desai's clinics, and lawyers say hundreds of their clients have also contracted the disease there.

Board members did not discuss the settlement publicly before their vote at the Thursday evening meeting, which Young did not attend. There was no opportunity for questions.

Dr. Daniel Curtis, the chairman of the board, recused himself from voting on the settlement because he said he was a former business associate of Young. Board member Scott Manthei recused himself because he said he had been working recently with Young.

A state health inspectors' report of a Feb. 14 surprise visit at the Maryland Parkway clinic said surveyors observed Young using a syringe multiple times on the same vial of anesthetic and then using that vial multiple times on other patients.

Dorothy Sims, the registered nurse and health surveyor who signed the state report, told the Review-Journal in July that she stood by the report.

But in the seven-page settlement agreement that makes no mention of Sims, two other unnamed surveyors told board investigators that they did not witness reuse of the syringe.

"I wasn't positioned and I got interrupted where I could not see the whole process," one surveyor told the board.

According to the state report, Young told inspectors in an interview that it was not a problem to use an anesthetic on multiple patients.

"The anesthesiologist was asked what the process was when he went from a used Propofol (anesthesia) vial to a new patient," the report states. "The anesthesiologist states that he would change the needle and reuse the same syringe."

In a separate interview less than an hour later, Young then told inspectors he would discard the needle and syringe after each use, but not the vial of medicine.

But when questioned by a board investigator, Young denied that he ever told surveyors what they alleged he said.

"Young also claims that the complainants were simply confused about his conversations with them about the procedures," the settlement agreement reads.

Young also told board investigators that he would not use the same needle, syringe and vial on different patients because "he knows the vial, needle and syringe would be contaminated."

Marla McDade Williams, chief of the Bureau of Licensure and Certification, said Thursday that the clinic where Young once worked has had its license pulled by her agency, she said she could not say whether his behavior was responsible for that action.

The clinic had several other problems, according to state inspectors, including a lack of evidence that the center had "implemented a program for identifying and preventing infections."

Inspectors also found that a registered nurse was not in attendance with recovering patients.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

 

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