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Peter Wetherall
Peter Wetherall
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Hepatitis C – HIV Catastrophe at a Las Vegas Endoscopy Center

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Six people who underwent procedures at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada have contracted hepatitis C, which has prompted the Southern Nevada Health District to step in and require that notices be sent and testing be provided to 40,000 people who obtained treatment at the facility. An investigation determined that “unsafe injection practices related to the administration of anesthesia medication might have exposed patients to the blood of other patients.”

Officials said the unsafe practices had been in place for several years and may have put others at risk. About 40,000 patients who received injections of anesthesia at the clinic are being notified of the potential exposure in letters arriving next week.

Chief health officer Lawrence Sands said anyone who received anesthesia at the clinic from March 2004 to Jan. 11 should be tested for the virus, along with hepatitis B and HIV.

“We are recommending all patients during this timeframe to get tested because we cannot determine which patients may have been exposed,” Sands said.

This is a pretty big deal. On the one hand, 40,000 people will wake up tomorrow and realize that not only are they apparently at risk for Hep C or HIV, but that they could have infected a loved one. That this circumstance is the result of shoddy sterilization or injection practices is all the more troubling.

One can only hope that those either infected or distressed by this will be compensated for the harm done here.