Infamous physician put profit before the life of his patients.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Indian American physician Dipak Desai was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in an outbreak of Heptatis C in Las Vegas.
Desai was charged with 27 criminal charges, including second-degree murder, theft, and patient negligence, among others. He was found guilty this past July, and last week, he was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 18 years. His lawyer said that Desai expressed remorse for his actions, but for the court, it was too little too late.
“[There is] no worse betrayal of trust in society than what Desai did to his patients,” said Clark County District Judge Valerie Adair while handing down Desai’s sentence.
In 2007, an unexpected outbreak of Hepatitis C prompted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Southern Nevada Health District to launch an investigation into where the disease was stemming from. By tracing the medical histories of patients with the affliction, investigators were able to determine that the outbreak originated from Desai’s clinics.
Desai was the owner of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada; two of his clinics were said to have been the place where at least nine individuals contracted an incurable form of the Hepatitis C virus, with a further 105 former patients also being at serious risk. The infections were spread so rapidly because Desai did not keep up with hygiene standards, opting to save money and increase profit margins at the expense of his patients’ well-beings.
There have also been at least two deaths: 77 year-old Rodolfo Meana in April 2012, whose death was ruled a homicide for which Desai was convicted, and 73 year-old Michael Washington in August 2013.
In addition to Desai, two of his nurses were also convicted and sentenced. Sixty-six year-old nurse-anesthetist Ronald Lakeman received a jail sentence of 8-21 years, while 77 year-old Keith Mathahs was sentenced to 28-72 months behind bars. Mathahs received a much lower sentence because of a plea deal he made with prosecutors, in which he plead guilty and testified against his other two cohorts.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that targets the liver, and can lead to various sever liver-related ailments that can even require liver transplants. There is no known vaccination against Hepatitis C.
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