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Doctors sentenced to life for hep C outbreak

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A doctor in the United States has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of involvement in a deadly hepatitis C outbreak.

News service AAP has reported that former endoscopy clinic owner Dr Dipak Desaia, 63, was found guilty of 27 criminal charges including second degree murder after one of the largest hepatitis C outbreaks in US history was traced to his clinics.

Investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that nine people contracted the virus at two clinics operated by Dr Desai, while the infections of a further 105 people may have been related to the clinics.

At least two patients, both men in their seventies, have died as a result of complications from their infections, which were put down to a miserly work environment, including at the Endoscopy Clinic of South Nevada, which encouraged unsafe practices that spread the virus.

Health authorities contacted 63,000 former patients of the clinics to get tested for potentially fatal blood-borne diseases including hepatitis C and HIV clinic after the 2007 outbreak revealed the high risk of cross-infection.

Dr Desai could face additional charges related to the death in August of a second former, and the sentencing judge set an 18-year non-parole period.

Adrian Rollins