State agency to re-inspect about 20 surgery centers

About 20 of the state's ambulatory surgery centers will be re-inspected starting next week, a representative from the Bureau of Licensure and Certification told the Southern Nevada Health District Board of Health Thursday.

Pam Graham, acting bureau chief, said eight federal health surveyors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will team with state surveyors next week to inspect these facilities.

Surveyors plan to spend more than two days in each of the selected surgery centers in Southern and Northern Nevada.

Any deficiencies found at the facilities will be made available to the public, she said.

Graham said the licensing bureau is working with CMS' central office in Baltimore to look at the lessons learned from Nevada's hepatitis C outbreak and the regulatory agency's response to the crisis.

The licensing bureau is also convening an expert panel to look at what parts of the investigation went well and where the agency could have done better, Graham said.

In January, the licensing bureau, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health district, inspected the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada as a result of six suspected cases of hepatitis C.

During the inspections, bureau surveyors documented several infectious disease control deficiencies, including the reuse of single-dose vials of medication. The center was fined $3,000 for those deficiencies.

The bureau would not divulge which clinics would be reinspected. But of a total of 50 surgery centers in the state, recent inspections found 24 had no deficiencies; 17 had minor deficiencies and seven had major infectious control deficiencies. Medical procedures have been disallowed at four clinics, though they can remain open for administrative purposes.

The licensing bureau has also submitted names of 35 health professionals to various health regulatory boards regarding unsafe practices documented at ambulatory surgery centers.

Those boards include the Nevada State Medical Board, Nevada State Board of Nursing, and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. The boards are conducting investigations into medical care professionals to determine if they have culpability in the hepatitis C outbreak.

Six nurses have voluntarily surrendered their licenses, said Debra Scott, executive director of the nursing board.

Dr. Dipak Desai, the central figure in the hepatitis C outbreak and majority owner of the Endoscopy Center on Shadow Lane, has voluntarily agreed to stop practicing medicine during the investigation. However, he has not relinquished his medical license.

Also Thursday, Graham told the board that federal health officials conducted an inspection at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals de Lima Campus last week. A complaint triggered the inspection.

Health officials would not say who filed the complaint nor what the complaint was about, but did say preliminary results of the inspection show no infectious disease control issues.

In a written statement, Andy North, director of public policy and external affairs for St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, confirmed the De Lima campus was surveyed. He said each of the St. Rose Dominican Hospitals follow national guidelines to protect against transmission of disease.

Martha Framsted, a spokeswoman for the Nevada State Health Division, said there are plans by the licensing bureau to conduct surprise inspections at other hospitals in Southern Nevada next week.

Framsted also said Thursday that Lisa Jones, the licensing bureau's former chief, has retired.

She had been criticized for not acting quickly against the Endoscopy Center and was removed from her position at the request of Gov. Jim Gibbons. She had the option of accepting a lower position with the agency or retiring.

Her retirement begins today.

Contact reporter Annette Wells at or (702) 383-0283.