updated 9/9/2008 2:36:28 AM ET 2008-09-09T06:36:28

A former patient sued a surgical center believed to have spread hepatitis C by reusing syringes and vials of medication, saying Thursday he fears for his health.

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The suit comes a day after the Southern Nevada Health District announced that unsafe practices at the clinic may have led to six reported cases of hepatitis C, a potentially fatal blood-borne virus.

Another 40,000 people who received anesthesia at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada between March 2004 and January 2008 are being urged to be tested for hepatitis, strains C and B, and HIV.

"I feel like a ticking time bomb. I'll get tested ASAP, but since HIV can lay dormant for many years, my wife and I face a future of uncertainty and fear," according to a statement from the plaintiff, Charles Anthony Rader, Jr., who said he received treatment during that period and may have been exposed.

The suit, filed in the Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada, alleges gross negligence and seeks punitive damages "in excess of $10,000" per patient.

Nancy Katz, a spokeswoman hired by the center, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Others join in action
Las Vegas attorney Peter Wetherall said other patients have joined the suit and expect more in the coming days. Nevada law only requires one plaintiff be identified at the time of filing a class action lawsuit, he said.

The suit names as defendants the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada; the center's chief administrator, Dipak Desai; a center doctor, Eladio Carrera; as well as any employees who "directly provided and/or supervised" unsafe medical procedures.

The clinic issued a statement Wednesday saying it had cleaned up its practices and was cooperating with the health district's investigation.

Health officials said they believe the center had been reusing syringes and vials of anesthesia, exposing its patients to the blood of others.

Five of those infected with the virus received treatment at the clinic on the same day in late September; a sixth is believed to have been infected in July, health officials said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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