Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | 5:17 p.m.
The state of Nevada assessed the maximum possible fine on a clinic that engaged in dangerous injection practices that put 40,000 people at risk of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV -- $3,000.
(By comparison, parking in a handicapped spot in Clark County will bring you a $347 fine.)
The fine is a pittance for Endoscopy Center of Nevada, which conducted about 60 endoscopic procedures a day. It is owned by Dr. Dipak Desai, one of the state's most powerful physicians. But the fine is the largest allowed under state law, said Lisa Jones, chief of the Nevada State Health Division's bureau of licensure and certification. The Bureau licenses the clinic, which is the source of a hepatitis C outbreak, according to health officials.
A health investigation showed that nurses at Endoscopy Center used a syringe twice to draw anesthetics from a vial for any given patient. If that patient was carrying hepatitis or HIV, the infected blood could contaminate the vial which was used for other patients, passing along the infection.
The state found three total violations at Endoscopy Center, including the injection problems and the failure to use new cleaning solution with every washing of endoscopic equipment. The clinic, which is now closed, will have to be monitored by the state if it reopens.