TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey doctor whom health officials suspect was the source of a hepatitis B outbreak had his medical license suspended indefinitely on Wednesday by state regulators.
Nearly 3,000 of Dr. Parvez Dara's patients have been warned to get tested after five cancer patients tested positive for the disease, which is transmitted through exposure to infected blood and can cause serious liver damage.
The state is still investigating the outbreak.
Members of the state Board of Medical Examiners decided to temporarily suspend the Ocean County oncologist's license on an emergency basis on Friday. On Wednesday, the full board voted to continue the suspension.
Dara's attorney, Robert Conroy, says there is no direct evidence that the hepatitis cases are linked to him. He asked the board on Wednesday to reinstate the doctor's license or at least allow him to perform consultations and exams, which the board declined to do.
Conroy said Dara would immediately appeal the decision. Dara, who attended the hearing, declined to comment.
The state moved to suspend Dara's license after health officials discovered that five people recently diagnosed with the disease in Ocean County share the same doctor.
Health inspectors visited Dara's office in March and described conditions there as unsanitary. The inspectors said they found blood on the floor of a room where chemotherapy was administered, blood in a bin where blood vials were stored, unsterile saline and gauze and open medication vials.
Inspectors also cited problems with cross-contamination of pens, refrigerators and countertops; use of contaminated gloves; and misuse of antiseptics, among other health code violations.
Following the inspection, county health officials sent a March 28 letter to Dara's patients warning them of the risk and suggesting they be tested for the liver diseases hepatitis B and hepatitis C and for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Dara, originally from Pakistan, has been practicing at his Toms River office for 23 years. He estimated that he sees between 45 and 60 patients a day, with about a dozen receiving chemotherapy each day.