Patient Testifies in Hep C Trial Against HMO - 8 News NOW

Patient Testifies in Hep C Trial Against HMO

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LAS VEGAS -- Victims of the Hepatitis C outbreak testified in court Friday afternoon about how their lives were forever changed by one appointment with Dr. Dipak Desai.

Bonnie Brunson, who contracted Hepatitis C at Desai's clinic, is suing the health maintenance organization (HMO), Health Plan of Nevada. Her husband, Carl, is joining her in the suit.

During her testimony, she described the anguish and agony she felt after learning she had hepatitis.

"I was so shocked, embarrassed, and just so confused, because when I found out that I had this disease, this was a disease basically nowadays for those who injected IV drugs or had multiple sex partners," she said.

Brunson had a colonoscopy back in 2005 at Desai's Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

She was diagnosed with the liver disease months later, but for three years, she had no idea where she got Hepatitis C, because she never engaged in risky behavior.

She testified that she went through a year of painful, tough treatments, and as she put it, was "skin and bones."

Then in early 2008, while visiting family in Alabama, when this unprecedented hepatitis outbreak made international news, Brunson saw Desai's clinic on the news, and realized that's where she got the virus.

Peter Bernhard, attorney for Health Plan of Nevada, said the true culprit in this matter is Desai.

Bernhard said Health Plan of Nevada believes the criminal case against Desai is the proper forum for blame in this tragedy.

He said, that along with a host of regulators, the insurance company had no idea Desai was a rogue doctor.

Health officials found dirty equipment and scary practices like re-using syringes and needles.

Brunson said she is suing Health Plan of Nevada because it knew Desai was a substandard doctor, allowing its members to go to Desai anyway.

Health Plan of Nevada said it had no idea and fear if they are found guilty, insurance costs for patients will go up.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

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