The first man died in April 2014. Another died later that month. Then on July 18 of that year, a woman was rushed to a hospital where she was told she was lucky to be alive.
They all went to the same Little Rock, Ark., surgery center for a colonoscopy, among the safest procedures a patient can have. And each stopped breathing soon afterward, court records say, sustaining the same type of brain damage seen in a drowning victim.
What happened at Kanis Endoscopy Center prompted no review by officials in Arkansas, which, like 16 other states, has no mandate to report patient deaths after surgery center care. So no facility oversight authority has examined whether the deaths were a statistical anomaly or cause for alarm.
A Kaiser Health News and USA Today Network investigation found that surgery centers operate under such an uneven mix of rules across U.S. states that fatalities or serious injuries can result in no warning to government officials, much less to potential patients. MORE