Lawyers say new cluster of hepatitis C infections found

Lawyers for patients suing the clinics at the center of a hepatitis C outbreak say they found a new cluster of infections at one of the clinics.

Three patients in the cluster all had colonoscopies March 15, 2007, at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, and all three contracted the same genotype of hepatitis C, according to court papers filed Tuesday.

Their procedures were all performed by Dr. Clifford Carrol between 9:05 a.m. and 10:35 a.m. that day, according to the filing.

Health officials had already identified a cluster of six hepatitis C cases on Sept. 21, 2007. Another two cases were linked to the same clinic on Shadow Lane, and one case was linked to the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center.

An additional 105 cases were "possibly related," according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

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.

"It shows that this wasn't isolated," said Nia Killebrew, a lawyer with Gillock, Markley and Killebrew.

Will Kemp, who represents clinic patients, said the new cluster shows a pattern and counters the clinics defense claim that the Sept. 21 cluster was an isolated incident.

The patients' lawyers identified the March 15 cluster by entering medical information from about 100 infected patients into a database. More clusters could be found as lawyers enter information from about 200 more infected patients into the database, Kemp said.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at or 702-383-0281.