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December 21, 2009 - HMOs Sued Over Hepatitis Outbreak

Lawsuits against HMOs and insurance companies in Nevada charge they neglected to adequately inspect several Las Vegas clinics suspected in a hepatitis outbreak.

Attorneys for patients who contracted or were exposed to hepatitis C at local endoscopy clinics say HMOs and insurers should be held accountable for telling people what particular health providers they must use, the Las Vegas Sun reported Friday.

If successful, the lawsuits could compel HMOs to thoroughly examine doctors and clinics before sending their insured patients to those providers, the Sun said.

The Southern Nevada Health District said unsafe medical practices at the Endoscopy Center clinics of Dr. Dipak Desai exposed patients to hepatitis through reused syringes and reuse of single-use medication vials for multiple patients.

Nine hepatitis C cases have been connected officially to Desai's facilities by the district, which says more than 100 patients may have been infected, the Sun reported.

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