Officials Gripe About Health Probe

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Gov. Jim Gibbons and several legislators say three temporary state Board of Medical Examiners members, named in early April to help speed an investigation into a southern Nevada hepatitis outbreak, still haven't been contacted by the board.

Gibbons, joined by state Sens. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, Joe Heck, R-Henderson, and Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, also said the board hasn't
held a hearing to describe its plan for investigating doctors involved in the outbreak.

"At this point, we see no alternative but to demand an immediate and detailed report of all actions the board has taken to date to address the role any Nevada physicians may have played in the outbreak," the governor and lawmakers said in a letter to Dr. Javaid Anwar, the board president.

The letter also states that Tony Clark, executive director of the medical panel, "has demonstrated an unwillingness to vigorously handle the matter."

Anwar didn't respond immediately to a call Friday seeking comment on the letter. Clark said the letter was being reviewed by the board's legal counsel, and a response from the board wasn't likely until Monday.

Gibbons announced April 2 that Drs. Ronald Kline, Beverly Neyland and Robert Wiencek, all from southern Nevada, would temporarily replace Anwar and two other doctors with ties to Dr. Dipak Desai, owner of a Las Vegas clinic where flawed procedures led to the hepatitis outbreak.

Besides Anwar, S. Daniel McBride and Sohail Anjum also were replaced. The letter from Gibbons and the legislators said Anwar is
still board president and responsible for quick action by the panel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a recent report that the staff at Desai's Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada likely caused the transmission of the bloodborne pathogen by "routinely mishandling injection equipment and single-use medication vials."

The CDC's report bolsters earlier conclusions by Clark County and state health officials about the outbreak that led to the biggest public health notification operation in U.S. history. Officials have linked 84 cases of the potentially deadly liver disease to the clinic and have notified 50,000 patients that they may be at risk.

Hepatitis C results in the swelling of the liver and can cause stomach pain, fatigue and jaundice. It may eventually result in liver failure. Even when no symptoms occur, the virus can slowly damage the liver.

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