3 Indicted on 28 Counts in Nevada
Doc and CRNAs Indicted on 28 Counts in Nevada Hep C Outbreak
After a 2-year criminal investigation into the Las Vegas-area hepatitis C outbreak, a grand jury has indicted a physician and 2 nurse anesthetists on 28 felony counts, including racketeering, patient neglect and insurance fraud.
Dipak Desai, MD, and nurse anesthetists Ronald Ernest Lakeman and Keith H. Mathahs were charged in connection with the unsafe injection practices at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada that infected 7 patients with the hepatitis C virus. Among the 28 charges, the indictment from the Clark County (Nev.) grand jury alleges that:
- The 3 defendants falsified anesthesia records during routine procedures between June 2005 and May 2008 and submitted them to insurance companies to be reimbursed under false pretenses.
- Dr. Desai pressured employees at the endoscopy center to reuse single-use vials of propofol on multiple patients, to reuse syringes and other instruments intended for single use, to limit the use of supplies needed for safe endoscopic procedures and to rush those procedures to enhance the center’s bottom line.
- Under Dr. Desai’s leadership, employees overloaded the endo center’s schedule and were not properly trained on how to clean endoscopes between cases.
District Judge Elissa Cadish set bail for Dr. Desai at $1 million and bail for Mr. Lakeman and Mr. Mathahs at $500,000 each.
After the outbreak came to light in 2008, Dr. Desai suffered a series of strokes, gave up his license to practice medicine and filed for bankruptcy. In addition to the criminal charges, he’s also facing dozens of medical malpractice lawsuits from former endoscopy patients.