Tahoe surgery center shut down after inspection

Nevada public health officials said Tuesday the Lake Tahoe Surgery Center at Round Hill has been ordered to stop all patient care procedures following an inspection that revealed unsafe infection-control practices.

The inspection was conducted by a federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services team as part of random surveys at 18 surgery facilities around the state following the discovery of flawed procedures linked to a hepatitis C outbreak at a Las Vegas clinic.

The state Health Division's Bureau of Licensure and Certification, which issued the "cease patient care" order to the Tahoe center, part of Barton HealthCare System, said there was no evidence of any disease transmission as a result of practices there.

Linda Thompson, a public relations executive for Barton HealthCare, stated inspectors were "extremely cautious and rightfully so for patient safety," but also said there was "never any risk to patient safety nor breach of sterile precautions" at the surgery center.

Thompson also said that scheduled patient surgeries are being handled Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe. Barton HealthCare only last month acquired a 67 percent stake in the surgery center.

The Tahoe center went through an initial survey conducted by the state in mid-March, and was told that improvements were needed to prevent problems such as the spread of disease or infection, Health Division spokeswoman Martha Framsted said.

The facility was closed from March 14 to March 18 to make the required changes, and its owners submitted a plan detailing the efforts on April 1. Federal inspectors made an unannounced visit to the center on Monday and returned on Tuesday to complete its inspection.

Framsted said the deficiencies cited by the federal team were different than the problems noted last month by the state inspectors.

Jack Cheevers, a spokesman for the federal agency, said he's prevented by agency rules from discussing the latest survey at this point. However, a report on the inspection will be available once the surgery center files a correction plan. That's a process that typically takes a few weeks.

In southern Nevada, two Las Vegas medical clinics at the center of the hepatitis C outbreak have surrendered their business licenses and paid a total of $500,000 in fines.

Mayor Oscar Goodman and lawyers for the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada say the clinics won't reopen.

The moves avoided a public hearing at which clinic doctors and nurses had been called to testify about a preliminary revocation of the business licenses after six patients contracted the potentially fatal disease during procedures. A seventh patient has since been identified with the virus. Health inspectors believe the virus was spread by unsafe injection practices at the clinics.


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