A judge Tuesday afternoon signed an order prohibiting a doctor linked to the hepatitis C outbreak from practicing medicine, pending resolution of a Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners’ complaint against him.
District Judge David Wall signed the temporary restraining order against Dr. Dipak Desai, stating in the order that “imminent and irreparable harm will result” if it isn’t immediately issued.
The order was requested Monday by state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto on behalf of the state medical board, which had cited a need to “protect the public from further harm.”
Wall also stated in the order that the attorney general’s office had “demonstrated a likelihood of success” in its request.
An attorney for Desai, whose Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada is at the center of the region’s health crisis, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Wall is scheduled on May 8 to decide whether he will issue a preliminary injunction against Desai.
In an informal agreement brokered by medical board president Dr. Javaid Anwar, Desai had voluntarily agreed to stop practicing medicine during the board’s investigation. Desai, a longtime friend and business associate of Anwar, was allowed to keep his license and potentially practice outside Nevada.
The attorney general’s office also requested Monday a temporary restraining order against Eladio Carrera, a co-owner of the endoscopy center on Shadow Lane with Desai and two other physicians. That request, before District Judge James Bixler, was still pending Tuesday.
Authorities said unsafe practices at the center led to the outbreak. The attorney general states that despite clear warnings, the endoscopy center, as a practice, reused vials of anesthesia and reused syringes, court documents state.
The complaints against Desai and Carrera claim that they performed medical procedures on three patients who were infected with hepatitis C, a potentially deadly liver disease.
Investigators with the Southern Nevada Health District think six patients contracted the disease when nurse anesthetists reused syringes on infected patients and contaminated single-use vials of anesthesia that were used on multiple patients.
The outbreak led public health officials to notify 40,000 clinic patients of possible exposure to blood-borne diseases, including hepatitis and HIV.
Health officials have since linked a seventh hepatitis C case to the Shadow Lane clinic and an eighth case to an affiliated clinic, the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center at 4275 Burnham Ave.
Officials have yet to issue a patient notification with the Burnham clinic because they haven’t gained access to the needed medical records.
On Friday, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, and state Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, sent Gov. Jim Gibbons a letter asking him to urge the Board of Medical Examiners to suspend licenses of physicians associated with the hepatitis C outbreak. They also pushed the governor to appoint a special counsel to investigate the doctors.
Gibbons’ press secretary said the governor would look into whether he has the legal authority to appoint a special counsel.
The FBI, Las Vegas police, attorney general’s office, Clark County District Attorney and state medical board are involved in a criminal probe into the outbreak.
Contact reporter David Kihara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.