Doctor in Hepatitis Probe Can't Practice

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A judge on Wednesday blocked a second
Las Vegas doctor linked to a hepatitis C outbreak from practicing medicine pending resolution of a 10-count state Board of Medical Examiners complaint against him.

Clark County District Judge James Bixler issued the temporary restraining order against Dr. Eladio Carrera, who worked at and is
a co-owner of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

The judge's order followed a similar order Tuesday against Dr. Dipak Desai, who has been running the center and several other clinics. The orders were requested by state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

In both cases, the judges said the temporary orders were warranted because the Board of Medical Examiners "has demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits" of its case against the doctors, and "imminent and irreparable harm will result" if the orders weren't issued.

A May 8 court hearing for Desai and a May 12 hearing for Carrera have been scheduled to determine whether the temporary orders should be followed up with preliminary injunctions against the doctors.

The complaints against Desai and Carrera describe several cases in which patients at the endoscopy center were treated by the doctors and later were diagnosed with hepatitis C. Both doctors are accused of conduct that put the patients' health and safety at risk.

Besides the medical board's activity, state legislators were told last week that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the FBI, Cortez Masto's office and the Clark County district attorney are involved in a criminal probe into the crisis.

The outbreak prompted health officers to advise tens of thousands of former patients at several clinics to be checked for exposure to hepatitis and HIV.

Authorities blame the infections on the reuse of needles and vials of medication on multiple patients, and say they've traced eight acute cases of hepatitis C to Desai's endoscopy center and to another one he operated. The two clinics have surrendered business licenses and paid a total of $500,000 in fines.

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