Nearly 40,000 people learned this week that a trip to the doctor may have made them sick.
In a type of scandal more often associated with Third World countries, a Las Vegas clinic was found to be reusing syringes and vials of medication for nearly four years. The shoddy practices may have led to an outbreak of the potentially fatal hepatitis C virus and exposed patients to HIV, too.
The discovery led to the biggest public health notification operation in U.S. history, brought demands for investigations and caused scores of lawyers to seek out patients at risk for infections.
Thousands of patients are being urged to be tested for the viruses. Six acute cases of hepatitis C have been confirmed. The surgical center and five affiliated clinics have been closed.
"I find it baffling, frankly, that in this day and age anyone would think it was safe to reuse a syringe," said Michael Bell, associate director for infection control at the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Newer wmtc readers might not realize why I post these types of items. One of this blog's themes is the disintegration of the United States into a third-world country. That's what the category "US regression" denotes. Once I began to see the US through this perspective, the evidence started appearing everywhere.
Canada had its own tainted blood scandal in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The health system was not testing properly for Hepatitis C or HIV after a test was available, and thousands of Canadians contracted one of those disease through transfusions. There was a long public inquiry, leading to criminal charges against the Red Cross, a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company and several doctors. Procedural changes were made, the victims were awarded monetary settlements and a scholarship fund was set up for their families.
I note this because the differences between the US and Canada are often most apparent in how the two countries react to painful and shameful events. The terrible ordeals of Maher Arar and Robert Dziekanski are good illustrations of that, and this is another.
This is 2008, and the Las Vegas clinic was reusing syringes for four years. This won't lead to a large-scale public inquiry. There might be a class-action lawsuit, handled privately. Other than this one clinic being closed, nothing will change.