Doctors Hail Nevada Governor's Reversal On Resignation Request

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Three doctors have hailed Gov. Jim Gibbons for
dropping his demand for their ouster from the Nevada Board of
Medical Examiners because of their ties to the owner of a Las Vegas
clinic at the heart of a regional health scare.

Gibbons on Friday ended his call for Drs. Javaid Anwar, Daniel McBride and Sohail Anjum to step down because of their link to Dr. Dipak Desai, owner of the clinic where health officials say unsafe medical practices left at least six patients infected with hepatitis C.

The three members have recused themselves from the medical board's inquiry into the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. The governor now plans to appoint three temporary board members to step in as the panel deals with the probe.

"The governor made the appropriate move to put the focus back on the investigations and resolution of the hepatitis outbreak issue," McBride told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "We all share the same concern about that.

"I think the response he initially proposed about our resignations was unnecessary. The resolution we've come to is an excellent one," McBride added.

Anwar, president of the nine-member board, said he was pleased
the panel would no longer be distracted by Gibbons' call for their
resignation.

"The board has some work to do and they need to move forward in
doing the work of the people of Nevada and we are committed to that," Anwar said.

Anjum agreed: "I think it is a good decision. We will work as diligently as we can to do the best for the public."

Officials last month said six patients at the endoscopy center were infected with hepatitis C through unsafe syringe use. Another 40,000 people were sent notices urging them to be tested for hepatitis and HIV.

Besides the six cases, officials learned of a seventh case of the blood-borne liver disease involving a patient at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center in Las Vegas in mid-2006. Both centers are
among six clinics headed by Desai.

The three physicians were in Reno on Saturday for the first regular meeting of the medical board since the hepatitis cases and the doctors' link to the endoscopy center were reported in February.

After hiring guards to help maintain the peace, the panel heard from no southern Nevada residents during the public comment portion of Saturday's meeting.

Claudio Baratcart, 72, who underwent procedures at the Endoscopy
Center of Southern Nevada in 2002 and 2007, was the only member of
the public at the meeting.

"I don't think there is any more I can say that hasn't already been said," Baratcart said.

More than 200 people crowded into hearing rooms in Las Vegas and
Carson City last week for a public hearing on the hepatitis C outbreak that sparked a massive alert by health agencies and a sweeping probe of Nevada's 50 surgical centers.
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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-03-30-08 1616EDT


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