LAS VEGAS -- Four years ago, Toni Carpenter walked into the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada perfectly healthy. She had no idea she would face danger at the doctor's office and contract hepatitis C.
The doctor who owned the facility, Dipak Desai, is accused of causing a hepatitis C outbreak by allegedly reusing syringes and vials on multiple patients. The Southern Nevada Health District linked nine hepatitis cases to Desai's clinics.
"This is a man who took people who came to him, basically for help, and ruined their lives," Carpenter said.
She is relieved Desai will be brought to justice, despite claims he wasn't mentally fit for trial after suffering two strokes.
"I went running through the house, yelling for my husband, saying he's going to have to go to trial," Carpenter said.
Desai sat and stared straight ahead during his competency hearing last week. His attorneys believe the 61-year-old gastroenterologist doesn't understand the criminal charges he faces.
"I thought that was a bunch of bologna," Carpenter said.
Judge Kathleen Delaney listened to testimony from medical experts who treated Desai for six months at Lake's Crossing, the state's mental hospital.
In her ruling, Delaney wrote, "... All three evaluators independently stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that defendant is competent and obviously exaggerating his symptoms."
The judge quoted a psychologist who observed, "Unlike Lake's Crossing Center clients with serious memory problems, he has always found his room and various facilities… without difficulty."
"I'm just delighted that people saw through what I perceived as a sham," Carpenter said.
Meanwhile, Carpenter's doctor's appointment almost five years ago is something she can't escape.
"It's always waiting for the other shoe to fall. Everyday, I wake up, and if I feel the slightest bit tired, I think, 'Oh, did I just not get enough sleep last night, or is it the onset of something else?'" she said.
Dr. Dipak Desai and two of his associates face 28 felony charges, including negligence, racketeering and insurance fraud. His jury trial is set to begin March 12 at 1:30 p.m. in Judge Donald Mosley's courtroom. His attorney, Richard Wright, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Desai also faces a slew of civil lawsuits.
Some medical providers say they often deal with Hispanic patients who are afraid to seek medical care. It's hoped the opening of a new medical clinic will change that.