John L. Smith, reporter, Las Vegas Review Journal
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- A verdict has been reached against former gastroenterologist Dipak Desai for criminal charges brought from a 2007 hepatitis outbreak. Desai reused vials and syringes when performing colonoscopies and endoscopies, which led to seven patients contracting hepatitis C. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and 26 other counts.
Las Vegas Review Journal columnist John L. Smith has followed the case from the beginning – he says Desai’s behavior shows what can happen when frugality in business turns in to medical negligence.
“The case itself really speaks to a pattern of activity that bordered on racketeering, that being criminal practice through shoddy professional practices that really turned the clinic into the mill,” says Smith.
According to observers, Desai took a successful practice and tried to cut corners to make it even more successful. Witnesses said he would ask why someone would purchase one type of prepping product when another was three cents cheaper.
“It got to the point where he wasn’t paying attention to the medical part, and that’s what disturbed people,” says Smith.
Smith says Desai was able to get away with shoddy practices to a point, because medical regulations in Nevada are so loosely enforced.
“It’s been largely up to the professionals to police themselves,” says Smith. And Desai was very active in the professional groups that monitor the oversight procedures.
Smith also thinks that any type of state safety regulations, for example for medical procedures or construction codes, become more difficult to oversee when there is a population boom. But he thinks Las Vegas reputation for a having not-so-great medical care is undeserved.
“To say this is some kind of medical backwater is really unfair,” says Smith.