In February 2008, over 50,000 Las Vegas residents and former residents were made aware of the possibility that they had been exposed to Hepatitis-C, Hepatitis-B, and HIV through the careless and lax procedures at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, located at 700 Shadow Lane in Las Vegas.
The Endoscopy Center, which performed internal diagnostic procedures, neglected to dispose of used anesthetizing equipment, and instead reused syringes and vials on multiple patients.
The investigation began in January 2008 when six cases of Hepatitis-C were found to have the clinic as their common link. By the end of February, health authorities were urging anyone who had been anesthetized during a visit to the Center to be tested, and began to work diligently to notify the 50,000 people who were at the Center between March 2004 and January 2008. The endeavor has the unfortunate distinction of being the largest public health notification operation in U.S. history.
On July 24, 2008 the Nevada Health District announced that through DNA testing they have been able to trace the chain of transmission not only to the dates, but also to the two patients who had the disease before being treated themselves. The two specific dates when patients were infected were July 25, 2007 and September 21, 2007.
It’s still not known how many people will ultimately be affected by the outbreak, and though 77 cases have a possible link to the clinic, only nine have been confirmed, with two new cases announced the last week of July 2008.
The clinic, which was initially closed down and then re-opened two weeks later, is currently facing numerous lawsuits.
Check Your Risk
Patients of the clinic are still being urged to see their doctors for testing and to discuss their risk of transmission. They are also being asked to join the Hepatitis C Exposure Registry in order to gather additional information related to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. Registry forms were mailed to patients in June 2008, and they can also be downloaded online at SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict.org or can be requested by calling (702) 759-4636.