LAS VEGAS " The Nevada state Board of Medical Examiners wants a judge to suspend the medical licenses of two doctors linked to a Las Vegas hepatitis C outbreak, pending the resolution of malpractice cases against them.
Documents filed Monday in Clark County District Court cite what authorities call a need "to protect the public from further harm" by physicians Dipak Desai and Eladio Carrera.
The first complaints against doctors in the massive hepatitis outbreak follow weeks of public complaints and pressure from state lawmakers who've questioned a lack of board action.
"After nine weeks, I'd say it's about time," Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
On Friday, Leslie and state Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, sent a letter urging Gov. Jim Gibbons to push the medical board to summarily suspend the doctors' licenses or appoint a special investigator.
The board lodged malpractice complaints against both doctors on Friday.
Desai and Carrera are among co-owners of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, where health authorities fear at least 50,000 people were exposed to potentially deadly viruses through unsafe injection practices.
The complaint filed by medical board Secretary-Treasurer Donald Baepler through the state attorney general's office alleges Desai and Carrera performed medical procedures on three patients who were infected at the clinic.
No hearing dates were immediately set. Desai's case was assigned to Clark County District Judge David Wall. Carrera's case was assigned to District Judge James Bixler.
Lawyers for Desai and Carrera were not immediately reached for comment.
Southern Nevada Health District officials have linked seven cases of acute hepatitis C case to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, and an eighth case to an affiliated clinic, the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center.
Officials announced Feb. 27 they were notifying 40,000 clinic patients of possible exposure to blood-borne diseases, including hepatitis and HIV. They said last week they were trying to notify another 10,000 whose names were found in clinic insurance records.
The state Board of Nursing announced in early March that six nurse anesthetists at the clinics surrendered their licenses pending an investigation. About 20 other registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses who worked at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada could face discipline failing to report unsafe practices, said Debra Scott, the nursing board's executive director.
In an informal agreement brokered by medical board president Dr. Javaid Anwar, Desai voluntarily agreed to stop practicing medicine during the board's investigation. Desai was allowed to keep his license and could practice outside Nevada.
No action was taken against 13 other doctors who worked at the clinics and an affiliated medical practice, the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada.