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Consultant at Desai trial: More clinic patients, better sales price

In the mid-2000s, Dr. Dipak Desai was shopping his clinics around and, as his business consultant testified Tuesday, facilities with higher volumes of traffic garnered the higher sales price.

Lawrence Preston, a health care consultant, said endoscopy clinics could go for around $5 million or $6 million. Most of the national companies that expressed interest in Desai’s Shadow Lane facility wanted Desai and his physician partners to retain 49 percent ownership.

The idea, Preston said, was that Desai would run the gastrointestinal side of the business and, therefore have a vested interest in the success of the business, while the new company would operate the endoscopy clinic.

Prosecutors indicated that Desai packed his clinic full of patients and rushed them through endoscopy procedures to keep his figures up and his business attractive to potential buyers.

Preston said Desai grew frustrated with the offers because he no longer wanted to have ownership.

“He said, ‘Look, I just want a decision, do you want to go forward or do you not want to go forward?’” Preston testified.

Even though he wasn’t negotiating a sale, Desai continued to keep a large number of patients filtering through his clinic to maintain the value for future offers.

Desai, 63, and co-defender, nurse anesthetist Ronald Lakeman, 65, face more than two dozen charges including second-degree murder, criminal neglect of patients, theft and insurance fraud.

The primary allegations against Desai and Lakeman stem from the use of the potent anesthetic propofol, which was administered by nurse anesthetists. The drug is supposed to be tossed out after use on one patient and the same vial should never be administered to a separate patient, experts have testified.

Prosecutors claim that Desai’s clinics were overcrowded, staff members were stressed and Desai was stingy, forcing nurse anesthetists to reuse equipment and propofol — a misstep that ultimately led to a hepatitis C outbreak that infected six patients, killing one.

Desai’s clinics were all closed in 2008, following a federal investigation into the outbreak of the deadly virus. Preston was scheduled to return to the stand for cross-examination at 1 p.m.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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