Nevada, Health Oversight Body to Trade Information

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A national accrediting body and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services have agreed to share information about infection control breaches such as those blamed
for a hepatitis C outbreak last year in southern Nevada, a state official said.

Martha Framsted, a spokeswoman for the Nevada health division, said the state was also trying to reach agreements with 10 other accrediting organizations. She said six are working with the state's health department, and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care is drafting an agreement.

Officials said cooperation between The Joint Commission and the state should improve the detection and reporting of conditions such as those linked to nine confirmed cases of hepatitis C at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and the Gastroenterolgy Center of Nevada.

Authorities allege that unsafe injection practices including reusing syringes and contaminated vials of anesthesia led to transmission of the incurable liver disease.

Another 105 cases of hepatitis C are considered possibly linked to practices at the two outpatient clinics in Las Vegas, which are now closed.

After unsafe practices were documented in January 2008, health authorities advised more than 50,000 clinic patients to undergo testing for hepatitis and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The Joint Commission is an independent not-for-profit organization that certifies more than 15,000 hospitals, health care organizations and programs in the United States.

It agreed to share with state health officials any complaints related to patient safety, as well as a schedule of its unannounced visits to health care facilities and any follow-up information.

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