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Former Desai Clinic Partner Testifies

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Photo: Frederick M. Brown/GettyImages

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/GettyImages

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Las Vegas CBS KXNT- A former partner of Dr. Dipak Desai was called on Thursday as a prosecution witness against Desai, who is standing trial for criminal negligence and second-degree murder in connection with the transmission of hepatitis C to seven patients. Dr. Clifford Carrol spent five hours describing the operation of the Endoscopy Clinic of Southern Nevada, which was identified as the source for an outbreak of the disease in 2007.

Carrol said he regarded Desai as a mentor, a wise doctor, and an astute businessman. He also said Desai could be intimidating, and was in control of all decisions. Desai hired Carrol as an employee. In three years Carrol became a partner, and over time bought his way into a 14 percent ownership before the clinic was shut down.

In the wake of the crisis that brought national attention to Desai and the Las Vegas Valley, Carrol said he felt despondent.

On several occasions he had reported to Desai practices that are now the focus of the trial. Carrol said he had asked Desai to trim the large number of patients scheduled at the clinic each day, which some employees likened to cattle moving through, according to other trial witnesses. Desai insisted on keeping the patient load at what Carrol and other doctors considered an unreasonably high level, he said.

Carrol had also reported a falsified medical chart, and an instance in which a nurse anesthetist used a vial of the sedative propofol on more than one patient after a policy against multiple use had been issued.

In each case, he testified that Desai exuded calm, and instructed Carrol to address the problem.

Carrol fired the nurse anesthetist, but discovered afterwards that Desai had overruled the dismissal. Instead, Desai sent her for additional training and transferred her to a different clinic. The CDC had identified multiple patient use of propofol as the most likely cause of the hepatitis transmission.

When Carrol noticed a medical chart had been filled out bearing the start and end times of a procedure before the procedure had occurred, he was told by Desai to report it to an operations manager who would instruct all personnel on proper procedures.

But misreporting of procedure times was a routine practice at the clinic, it was later revealed. After the Center for Disease Control and the Southern Nevada Health District started an investigation of the clinic as the common link in three hepatitis C cases, Carrol made a trip to Desai’s lawyer’s office to comb through patient records on his own. He said he became alarmed when he saw the times on every record had been reported as between 31 and 33 minutes. when the actual procedures took between 10 and 45 minutes.

Carrol will continue his testimony on Friday.

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