A Nevada judge has approved the settlement of 18 hepatitis C lawsuits filed by patients of two Las Vegas endoscopy centers that was shut down in 2008 due to unsafe medical practices that exposed thousands of patients to potential infection.
The Las Vegas endoscopy clinic settlements, which are for undisclosed amounts with Nevada Mutual Insurance Co., were reported last week by Courthouse News Service. The plaintiffs all claimed that they contracted hepatitis C as a result of unsanitary practices at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center , including reuse of syringes and vials of medication intended for only single-patient use.
In February 2008, health officials shut the clinics down after identifying the problems, and over 40,000 former patients were advised by the Southern Nevada Health District to get tested for potentially fatal blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis C or HIV.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that can cause liver damage, including liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is technically incurable, but very effective treatment has been able to eradicate the disease in some of those who contract it.
Attempts to certify a hepatitis C class-action lawsuit on the basis of emotional distress on behalf of thousands of former patients of the clinic failed in 2008, but more than 250 patients who suspect they contracted hepatitis C from the clinic filed individual lawsuits.
There were concerns among those involved in the litigation about the limited insurance coverage and assets available to satisfy all of the infection lawsuits filed, as it was previously reported that the clinic’s insurance policy was only $3 million.