Official: Desai suffers stroke


A lawyer for Dr. Dipak Desai told the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners on Monday that the physician whose clinics are linked to a major hepatitis outbreak has suffered a stroke.

Tony Clark, executive director of the board, said that his staff learned the news from Desai's lawyer Kim Mandelbaum.

"He allegedly had a stroke in California last week," Clark said Monday afternoon. "Now he's back in Nevada at his home."

Attempts to reach Mandelbaum and Desai's family were unsuccessful.

According to Clark, Mandelbaum is in the process of sending medical records that describe Desai's stroke to the board.

"I don't know how severe it was," Clark said, adding that he didn't know where in California Desai had the medical problem. He also said he did not know at what medical facility the father of three was treated.

A hearing regarding the 58-year-old Desai's medical license is scheduled for early September. At this point, Clark said, it is too early to know whether that hearing will be continued.

Clark said he notified members of the medical board about what Desai's attorney had told his staff. Dr. Dan McBride, a board member and longtime friend of Desai, said he was notified but that he had no further details.

Desai's medical license has been suspended as authorities continue to investigate nine hepatitis cases linked to his Shadow Lane and Burnham Avenue clinics.

"A pre-hearing was supposed to be held this week," said Clark, noting that documents and lists of witnesses were to be produced. "His health could be a basis for a continuance."

This is the second stroke Desai has suffered, according to his longtime acquaintance, Kanti Patel. "Last year he had a stroke on the plane on the way to India," he said. "They had to take him off the plane at Taipei after he started talking too much and stuttering."

A stroke occurs, according to Dr. Dale Carrison, head of emergency medicine at University Medical Center, when a blood vessel bringing oxygen and blood to the brain ruptures or gets blocked so brain cells don't get the flow of blood that they need.

Paralysis can occur.

"The fact that the doctor is at home probably tells us this was a minor stroke," Carrison said. "Otherwise he would be undergoing rehabilitation in a hospital."

Patel said Desai did not suffer any visible residual damage from the first stroke. Desai nearly died from a heart attack during the 1980s but had seemed in good health until his 2007 stroke, Patel said.

Carrison said individuals sometimes suffer from what is called a mini or warning stroke, known medically as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. That occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time.

About 10 percent of serious strokes are preceded by a TIA. Carrison said imaging tests of Desai's brain will show what damage he suffered from the stroke.

In February, health authorities advised thousands of patients of Desai's Shadow Lane clinic to undergo testing for hepatitis and HIV. Authorities investigating a cluster of hepatitis C cases had observed clinic nurses reusing syringes in a manner that contaminated vials of medication and, they believe, infected patients.

This dangerous practice, according to city investigators, was done at the direction of Desai and other administrators.

Attorney Robert Eglet, who represents more than 4,600 patients of Desai's clinics, said that in August a hearing is scheduled so he and other attorneys could find out when Desai and members of his medical staff could be deposed or questioned about medical practices at his clinics.

"If this is true, this could really hold up some things," Eglet said.

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

 

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