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Grand Jury Looks at Criminal Charges in Hep C Case | Health

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Grand Jury Looks at Criminal Charges in Hep C Case

LAS VEGAS -- A Las Vegas doctor accused by his patients of infecting them with hepatitis C could soon face criminal charges.

A grand jury met Thursday to decide whether Dr. Dipak Desai should be prosecuted. They're hearing allegations from at least three former patients that Dr. Desai and four other office workers were criminally negligent when they allegedly got hepatitis C from Desai's endoscopy center.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens says it's now it's a waiting game.

"There's really no way of predicting how long its going to take," he said.

The DA's Office says they are working with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the State Attorney General.

A two year investigation by the Southern Nevada Health District found that as many as 110 hepatitis C cases came from Desai's medical offices.

His endoscopy center is accused of not using proper disinfecting procedures after treating a patient who acknowledged they had the virus, known to cause severe damage to the liver.

Ed Bernstein, attorney for some of Dr. Desai's former patients, says there are several specific patients who may hold the key to prosecuting the doctor.

"This case has been a very unusual case. You have doctors who have refused to testify because of the Fifth Amendment privileges. We've had multiple bankruptcy filings that have held up the case," he said.

Out of the 110 potential patients infected with hepatitis C, there are around seven who could hold the key to prosecuting Desai and his four co-workers.

There may be a genetic link that proves the infection came from his medical office.

Bernstein adds some of the former patients feel angry that Dr. Desai has not been brought in front of the Medical Board.

Nevada grand juries typically have 17 people. They meet in secret. They won't likely be talking to all 110 potential victims, they only need enough to establish if the DA's office has a strong case.