Tagged Health Industry

Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes

Happy Friday! Before we dive in to the harder news, please join me in enjoying this story about scientists dosing a shy breed of octopus with ecstasy to see if the animal became cuddly and friendly while high. (I swear, it relates to health care: More studies are evaluating psychedelic drugs as outside-the-box treatments, especially for post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.)

Now, here’s what else you may have missed:

Senators were busy bees this week on the Hill. In a rare bipartisan feat, the upper chamber passed a sweeping opioids package … but there’s some fine print. Lawmakers still have to iron out the (harder, more controversial) differences between the Senate and House versions of the legislation, and they probably won’t do that work until November — conveniently, after midterms. Until then, they have a talking point!

And you know that “doughnut hole” change (which forces drugmakers to pay more for medication used by Medicare beneficiaries) that pharma hates and has been pestering lawmakers about for ages? Congress might tuck a measure rolling that back into the opioid package.

The Associated Press: GOP, Dems Unite Behind Senate Bill Fighting Addictive Drugs

Stat: GOP Lawmakers Seeking to Use Opioids Bill to Deliver Drug Industry Major Victory

It’s not all roses for drugmakers, though: A Senate-passed bill would ban “gag clauses,” which currently keep pharmacists from talking to consumers about lower-cost options.

Stat: Senate Passes Bill That Would Ban ‘Gag Clauses’ Limiting Disclosures on Drug Prices

In a sharp divergence from the budget spectacles of years past, the Senate quietly OK’d a measure to avert a government shutdown. The measure included a big, 5 percent boost to the National Institutes of Health, which was the fourth-straight significant increase for the agency.

The Associated Press: Senate Backs Bill to Avert Shutdown, Boost Military Spending

There’s a real fear out there that we’re all one bad accident away from financial ruin. A bipartisan group of senators wants to protect patients from that worry with its proposed measure on surprise bills, otherwise known as “balance billing.” (Bonus: Check out the KHN story that Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy cited in his announcement.)

The Hill: Bipartisan Senators Unveil Proposal to Crack Down on Surprise Medical Bills


As the news continues to evolve over the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, here’s a health tidbit you might have missed if you didn’t scan all the way to the bottom of today’s stories. Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska, an independent, and his lieutenant governor, Byron Mallott, both came out against Kavanaugh’s nomination — not because of the accusations, but because they’re worried he’s going to jeopardize Medicaid coverage. It will be interesting to see if that’s enough to sway Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, who is being watched closely as a possible swing vote.

The New York Times: Christine Blasey Ford Opens Negotiations on Testimony Next Week


Attorney general races are rarely the belles of the ball when it comes to elections. But as more of them use their position to try to check President Donald Trump’s policies (especially ones chipping away at the health law), the campaigns are drawing more eyes.

Politico: Obamacare Lawsuit Boosts Democrats in State AG Races

Preexisting conditions have been a bomb Republicans have been trying to defuse for weeks on the campaign trail, but even GOP strategists call it a losing battle. “What you have to do at this point is duck and cover,” said one in Politico’s coverage.

Politico: Republicans ‘Duck and Cover’ on Pre-Existing Conditions


A new, more detailed report has emerged of the slow-moving medical catastrophe that was Hurricane Maria. It’s also a grim insight into why counting a death toll becomes so complicated.

The Associated Press: Maria’s Death Toll Climbed Long After Rain Stopped

Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched into why two mentally ill women who were seeking care were taken from a safe hospital and driven into Florence’s floodwaters, where they both drowned.

The New York Times: They Were Seeking Mental Health Care. Instead They Drowned in a Sheriff’s Van.


In the miscellaneous, must-read file for the week:

  • The U.S. is the most dangerous place to have a baby in the developed world, yet states are doing little to address the issue. And the ones that are, often blame the moms.

USA Today: Maternal Deaths: What States Aren’t Doing to Save New Mothers’ Lives

  • We’re on the precipice of some amazing breakthroughs for cancer treatments, yet Native Americans and black patients are missing out because they’re underrepresented in clinical trials.

ProPublica/Stat: Black Patients Are Being Left Out of Clinical Trials for New Cancer Therapies

  • Personal health aides can be a lifeline for elderly patients. Inviting a stranger into your home, though, is inherently risky and there’s few regulations that exist to weed out predators.

Boston Globe: Stranger in the House

  • And a fascinating Alzheimer’s treatment called “reminiscence therapy” has seen success overseas and is gaining traction here. Check out this one facility that recreated a 1950s town square, complete with Buddy Holly on the jukebox and an old-fashioned diner.

The Wall Street Journal: To Help Alzheimer’s Patients, A Care Center Re-Creates The 1950s


As a newsroom that has a dedicated chocolate drawer and sweet treats brought in by colleagues a few times a week, this article on employers cutting down on sugary snacks sparked a bit of a debate here. To ban or not to ban, that is the question of the week.

Have a great weekend!

State Highlights: Safety Allegations Against Manchester VA Unfounded, Internal Draft Report Shows; Colorado’s Mental Health System Riddled With Failures, Advocates Say

Media outlets report on news from New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Washington, Ohio, Connecticut, California, Minnesota and Kansas.

CHIP Coffers Are Habitually Raided To Finance Other Parts Of The Budget. Take A Look At How It Survives.

Funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program are technically outside the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committees and don’t count against annual discretionary caps, and the pool of “contingency money” dedicated to the program has been tapped sparingly. Medicaid news comes out of Alabama and Maine, as well.

‘A Lot Of Opportunities’ Exist For Cutting Drug Costs, Trump Health Official Tells Congress

Joe Grogan, OMB’s associate director for health programs, didn’t specify what lawmakers can do before year’s end to stem rising costs, but one bill with bipartisan support helps generic companies obtain samples of brand drugs as part of the development process. News on the industry also spotlights a new lobbying heavyweight for PBM and Medicaid pharmaceutical spending.

America’s Drug Death Trends Are More Complex Than The Current Narrative About Opioid Overdoses

Overdose deaths are on a sharp upward trajectory, but the roles different drugs play in that overarching epidemic has been simplified to focus on opioids. A new study reveals the depth of the crisis in America over the past four decades, and offers a grim picture of the country’s future. In other drug-related news: hospitals and addiction treatment; the Trump administration’s efforts to curb the epidemic; information exchanges; and more.

Sloan Kettering Hit With Another Controversy Over Exclusive Deal With For-Profit Startup It Has Financial Stake In

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and its officials hold an equity stake in the artificial intelligence startup to which the center has granted exclusive rights to use its vast archives. The connections raised some eyebrows so soon after the resignation of the center’s chief medical officer over his failure to disclose financial conflicts.

Massive Opioid Package Gives Congress Opportunity To Roll Back ‘Doughnut Hole’ Change That Pharma Hates

In February, Congress passed a provision forcing drug manufacturers to pay more for drugs used by Medicare beneficiaries. The industry has been railing about the change ever since, and the bipartisan opioid package might be lawmakers’ chance to hand pharma a big win.

Alex Azar Came To HHS Ready To Execute A Four-Point Health Plan. Then The Zero-Tolerance Crisis Happened.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar became the public face of the crisis because his agency is responsible for housing the migrant children that were separated from their parents. The Washington Post looks at how he handled the pressure. Meanwhile, Azar plans to shift millions from public health programs to help pay to house detained migrant children.

Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Health On The Hill

As the start of the fiscal year draws near — along with pivotal midterm elections — Congress is picking up its pace on legislation. This week alone the Senate passed a comprehensive bill aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic and a nearly final bill to fund the Department of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled draft legislation aimed at helping patients who receive “surprise” medical bills after inadvertently receiving medical care outside their insurance carrier’s network.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Joanne Kenen of Politico.

On Sept. 27, the podcast will tape in front of a live audience at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas. Details are here. Also on Sept. 27, KHN is hosting a live event to discuss medical overtreatment and its health consequences. More information on that event is here.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Legislation to combat the opioid epidemic is expected to move through Congress quickly because both Republicans and Democrats are eager to show voters they are addressing what is a nationwide public health crisis.
  • That opioid package won’t provide a solution to one of the most vexing problems of the epidemic: The majority of deaths come from the use of an extremely powerful drug, fentanyl, that is often mixed with illegal opioids.
  • For the first time in years, Congress is likely to pass a bill to fund HHS before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. The bill is known for triggering “culture war” debates, especially on issues dealing with abortion, but lawmakers have largely avoided that this year.
  • Opponents of abortion sought to use the HHS appropriations bill to defund Planned Parenthood. But both Republicans and Democrats worked to stop any poison pills that might have held up the bill. Also, the bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate, so Democrats had to be accommodated in order to get it through.
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) headed a bipartisan group of senators who unveiled a bill this week that would squelch surprise medical bills that patients get from out-of-network hospitals or doctors, a process known as “balance billing.” The initiative isn’t expected to pass this year, but it is an issue that Cassidy will likely bring up again next year when the new Congress meets.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: Politico’s “Obamacare Lawsuit Boosts Democrats in State AG Races,” by Alice Ollstein

Rebecca Adams: The Wall Street Journal’s “Behind Your Rising Health-Care Bills: Secret Hospital Deals That Squelch Competition,” by Anna Wilde Mathews

Joanne Kenen: The New York Times’ “23andMe Said He Would Lose His Mind. Ancestry Said The Opposite. Which Was Right?” by Laura Hercher

Margot Sanger-Katz: The New York Times’ “Manchin Counts on Health Care to Stave Off Republican Tide in West Virginia,” by Trip Gabriel

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunesStitcher or Google Play.

Here Comes Flu Season: Health Law Requires Free Vaccines, If You Know Where To Get One

It’s no surprise the CDC wants more people to get the flu shot — only 40 percent of adults do. But what many people might not know is where to get the vaccine for free and that it’s your best bet to prevent the flu. Meanwhile, Delaware is reporting its first cases of the season, a month earlier than last year.

Here Comes Flu Season: Health Law Requires Free Vaccines, If You Know Where To Get One

It’s no surprise the CDC wants more people to get the flu shot — only 40 percent of adults do. But what many people might not know is where to get the vaccine for free and that it’s your best bet to prevent the flu. Meanwhile, Delaware is reporting its first cases of the season, a month earlier than last year.

U.S. Is Most Dangerous Place In Developed World To Give Birth — And States’ Efforts Are Falling Far Short Of Fixing Problem

If states address the issue at all, the panels usually end up blaming the mothers’ health conditions and lifestyle choices rather than looking at hospitals and the quality of care delivered by providers. For example, In Louisiana — the deadliest state in America for pregnant women and new mothers — the state’s 2012 report on maternal deaths emphasized suicide, domestic violence and car crashes.

U.S. Is Most Dangerous Place In Developed World To Give Birth — And States’ Efforts Are Falling Far Short Of Fixing Problem

If states address the issue at all, the panels usually end up blaming the mothers’ health conditions and lifestyle choices rather than looking at hospitals and the quality of care delivered by providers. For example, In Louisiana — the deadliest state in America for pregnant women and new mothers — the state’s 2012 report on maternal deaths emphasized suicide, domestic violence and car crashes.

Drug Companies Back New California Bill To Protect Integrity Of Research Data From Consumers

The legislation comes in reaction to a law that was geared toward protecting consumer privacy. Drug companies say, though, that it could inadvertently invalidate research, make it difficult to obtain funding and ultimately drive scientists from the state. In other industry news, companies in Massachusetts are being wooed by Maryland, and Europe signs off on another Humira copy.

Drug Companies Back New California Bill To Protect Integrity Of Research Data From Consumers

The legislation comes in reaction to a law that was geared toward protecting consumer privacy. Drug companies say, though, that it could inadvertently invalidate research, make it difficult to obtain funding and ultimately drive scientists from the state. In other industry news, companies in Massachusetts are being wooed by Maryland, and Europe signs off on another Humira copy.

Despite Red Flags At Surgery Centers, Overseers Award Gold Seals

(Maria Fabrizio for KHN)

At his surgery center near San Diego, Rodney Davis wore scrubs, was referred to as “Dr. Rod” and carried the title of director of surgery. But he was a physician assistant, not a doctor, who anesthetized patients and performed liposuction with little input from his supervising doctor, court records show.

So it was perhaps no surprise, in 2016, when an administrative judge stripped Davis of his license, concluding it was the only way to “protect the public.” State officials also accused two former medical directors of Pacific Liposculpture of enabling Davis to act as a doctor.

One powerful authority in California took a different view. The state-approved private accreditation agency that oversees the center left its approval in place. So the center is still operating and Davis remains an owner and administrator, state records show.

California is the only state with more than 1,000 surgery centers that has given private accreditors a lead role in oversight. Those accreditors are typically paid by the same centers they evaluate.

That approach to oversight has created a troubling legacy of laxity, an investigation by Kaiser Health News shows. In case after case, as federal or state authorities waved red flags, state-approved accreditation agencies affixed gold seals of approval, according to a KHN review of hundreds of pages of doctors’ disciplinary records, court files and accreditor reports — which are public only for California surgery centers.

One accreditation inspector called a doctor’s anesthesia technique “impressive” just months before the state medical board accused her of “gross negligence” for putting patients in deep sedation without the training to save them if they stopped breathing. Another doctor who is fighting a medical board accusation of “gross negligence” over two patient deaths in 2014 and 2015 got his own surgery center approved by an accreditor in 2016.

In yet another case, Medicare officials declared a state of “immediate jeopardy” at a center that put an untrained receptionist in charge of disinfecting surgical scopes, a Medicare inspection report says. Its accreditor renewed its approval within a week.

Patient deaths after care in a California surgery center reached a 14-year high with 18 cases in 2016, though the total dipped to 14 the following year, according to state records based on reports filed by the centers. Since 2010, at least 102 patients have died after care in the state’s surgery centers. Such facilities perform a variety of outpatient surgeries and now outnumber hospitals nationally.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, a San Francisco Bay Area Democrat, chairs the committee that oversees the state medical board, which reviews and approves the state’s surgery center accreditation agencies every three years.

Briefed on the investigation’s findings, Hill said this “definitely warrants a deeper examination into what’s going on at the surgery centers and how the accreditation process is working today — and [whether it’s] providing the patient protection I was hoping for when we established it.”

‘Impressive’ Or Negligent?

California’s oversight of surgery centers was upended about a decade ago when a physician’s legal victory led the Department of Public Health to conclude it could no longer license doctor-owned surgery centers. The doctor had filed suit, challenging the requirement that he and his surgery center both maintain a license. He prevailed, putting state oversight of the doctor-owned centers in flux.

In 2011, state lawmakers came up with a solution, mandating that the state medical board approve the private accreditors that would be on the front lines of oversight. Today, five accreditors are allowed to both inspect surgery centers and to grant or deny surgery centers approval to operate. (Centers can also operate with just Medicare approval.)

State medical board officials denied a request for death reports that included centers’ names, making a more comprehensive review of the centers or their accreditors difficult. Some of the same accreditation agencies that approve surgery centers, though, have been under fire with members of Congress after a Wall Street Journal report pinpointed gaps in their oversight of hospitals.

With the change in California, the state-approved accreditation agencies got a guaranteed source of income, since the centers each pay their accrediting agency about $15,000 every three years for their oversight role. In turn, the accreditors made a first-of-its kind concession: They agreed to make their inspection reports open to the public on a state website.

Those reports show that accreditors, at times, were at odds with other officials.

On May 1, 2012, the Institute for Medical Quality, or IMQ, a San Francisco-based accreditor, inspected Advanced Medical Spa in Rocklin, Calif. The inspectors were required to check whether the person administering anesthesia was “qualified and working within their scope of practice.”

The inspector’s note says the surgeon’s wife, a pediatrician, was performing “conscious sedation” anesthesia and said her technique with the drug propofol was “impressive.” The standard was marked as “met” and accreditation was awarded through 2015.

A month later, the state medical board launched an investigation of the pediatrician, Dr. Yessennia Candelaria, over complaints that she was handling anesthesia for plastic surgery procedures without “requisite training in anesthesia, including Propofol,” the board’s records show.

Investigators for the Medical Board of California found that before and after the accreditor’s review, Candelaria was using propofol to put patients in a state of “deep sedation” even though she didn’t have the “advanced airway” training in how to rescue them if their breathing shut down. Medical board authorities deemed the lapse “gross negligence” in an accusation filed in 2014 that also accused her of abusing controlled drugs. Her medical license was put on probation for seven years. Medical board authorities recently moved to revoke her license over unauthorized prescribing, and she has not yet filed a written response.

An attorney for Candelaria declined to comment and Candelaria did not respond to a request for comment.

In February 2013, IMQ revoked its approval of Advanced Medical Spa. The following month, Candelaria and her husband, Dr. Efrain Gonzalez, were arrested in a separate criminal case. Gonzalez was charged with 37 felony counts that included mayhem and conspiracy for allegedly disfiguring the women he operated on at the center. Candelaria was charged with 24 felony counts, including mayhem and grand theft by false pretense.

Gonzalez pleaded guilty to three felonies and was sentenced to three months of house arrest in the criminal case and surrendered his medical license. Charges were ultimately dismissed against Candelaria, who pleaded not guilty.

Victoria Samper, vice president of ambulatory programs with IMQ, said she could not comment on specific facilities. But she did note that California law allows doctors to practice outside of the field they initially train in. She also said if a doctor is doing so, an inspector would be expected to “drill down” into the physician’s practices.

The medical board said in a statement that the private accreditor who dubbed Candelaria’s technique “impressive” reviewed her work with a different patient than those cited in the board’s accusation.

“If the Board becomes aware that there is an accreditation agency that is not following the law when accrediting outpatient surgery settings, the Board would look into it,” the statement said.

Decertified, Yet Still Operating

Accreditation agencies have stood by eight California surgery centers facing the federal Medicare program’s harshest consequence — “involuntary decertification.” It’s a rare sanction that amounts to being deemed unfit to care for seniors.

On March 22, 2016, California Department of Public of Health inspectors notified federal authorities about a state of “immediate jeopardy” at Digestive Diagnostic Center, a small endoscopy center south of San Francisco.

A state inspection report said the center had pressed its new receptionist into duty to disinfect medical devices that probe patients’ colons — with no formal training. The center failed to protect patients and had “ineffective infection-control policies which did not address hiring … of qualified individuals,” the report concluded.

Something else happened that day as well. The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, or AAAHC, renewed its approval of the center, which the agency describes as a “widely recognized symbol of quality” to patients and health insurers.

Medicare involuntarily decertified the facility a month later, which meant the federal agency would no longer pay for seniors’ care at the center. But with private accreditation still in place, private insurers would be likely to continue funding care there.

Dr. Michael Bishop, a former California medical board member, said the case exposes a gap in state oversight if a center falls below one overseer’s standard but meets another’s. “You want no one to have easier [approval] process than any other one,” he said. “That’s quite egregious.”

Kevin Calisher, president of the surgery center management firm Calisher & Associates, said his company took over management of the center in 2017, and that he could not comment on Medicare’s findings.

AAAHC said in a statement that it could not discuss individual facilities.

The medical board’s statement said Medicare is not required to notify the board when it decertifies a surgical center. “Now that this situation has been brought to the Board’s attention, however, the Board will be looking into the matter,” the statement said.

The Case Of ‘Doctor’ Davis

On April 9, 2015, an inspector from AAAHC arrived to perform an initial inspection of Pacific Liposculpture, which had been operating since 2011.

The inspectors’ checklist included a review of complaints filed against the center by a state “licensure board.” Davis had already been publicly accused by the state physician assistant board of engaging in the unlawful practice of medicine and gross negligence for failing to appropriately care for patients who experienced complications.

The inspector checked the box for “substantial compliance” and awarded the center approval through April 2018.

That decision was “enraging actually, outrageous,” said Todd Glanz, a San Diego-area attorney. He represents a patient, Cecilia O’Neill, who went to the center for liposuction a few weeks after it was accredited.

O’Neill returned a few days after her May 28, 2015, procedure, complaining of pain, dizziness and signs of infection, her lawsuit alleges. But she claims her condition got worse. On June 9, 2015, she went to an emergency room, where she was told she had sepsis and needed emergency surgery followed by a stay in the ICU, according to her lawsuit.

Glanz said O’Neill was left with a hospital bill of nearly $200,000 and ongoing disfigurement. Davis and Dr. Harrison Robbins, the facility’s former medical director and other owner, have denied wrongdoing and are fighting the ongoing lawsuit.

The following year, in February 2016, Davis faced an eight-day administrative hearing over whether he should keep his license as a physician assistant. A central issue was whether he truly worked under a doctor’s supervision, as the law requires, or hired a figurehead who would exert little control.

One 2010 email discussed in court was by Davis, saying he hoped his new supervising physician, Dr. Jerrell Borup, would not be “another clumsy physician getting in the way.”

His attorney presented experts and argued that he should keep his license. At its conclusion, the administrative judge revoked his license and reached a searing conclusion.

Davis “purposefully and intentionally set out to create a business arrangement that looked legitimate on paper,” Judge Susan Boyle wrote, “but allowed him to manipulate the system and run a liposuction business without the interference of a physician.”

The two former medical directors of the center were accused by the Medical Board of California of “aiding and abetting” Davis’ unlicensed practice of medicine. Neither doctor actively supervised Davis, who performed all the procedures, the accusations say.

Davis has denied wrongdoing in each proceeding and declined to comment for this report through an attorney. One of the former medical directors, Borup, surrendered his license in 2016. The other, Dr. Harrison Robbins, is fighting the medical board’s similar case against him. The controversy did not deter AAAHC, which earlier this year approved the center through April 2021.

Robert Frank, a San Diego attorney who represented Davis and Robbins, said Robbins has retired and the public should have no concerns about Davis’ ongoing administrative role at Pacific Liposculpture.

“[Davis] knows the business, he knows the procedure and he knows he’s being watched and scrutinized” during the ongoing legal case, Frank said.

Davis contested his license revocation but lost that case in Sacramento Superior Court. He’s now challenging that decision in appeals court.

Betsy Imholz, former director of special projects for Consumers Union, who reviewed the findings for this report, said the case was shocking. “There are huge gaps in California law, clearly,” she said.

Two Deaths And Then A Green Light

The families of two women in their 40s sued Diamond Surgery Center in Encino, Calif., and its surgeon, alleging wrongdoing in their 2014 and 2015 deaths.

The incidents did not stop the facility from getting accreditation in 2017 from the Chicago-based Joint Commission, the nation’s most prominent accreditor.

Oneyda Mata, 40, was the first to die, on March 29, 2014. According to her autopsy, she called 911 from her car, struggling to breathe. Although her liposuction at the surgery center was 22 days earlier, the autopsy lists Diamond Surgery Center as the “place of injury” in her death from a blood clot lodged in her lung.

Dr. Roya Dardashti admitted no fault, but reached a $200,000 settlement in the family’s lawsuit. The sum became public only because the family filed legal records saying Dardashti failed to make some payments.

MaryCruz Elizalde, 42, was the second to die, on Dec. 10, 2015. She was in recovery after a tummy tuck and liposuction at Diamond Surgery Center when she went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital. Her autopsy says she died from internal bleeding and shock “as a consequence of complications of surgery.”

Elizalde’s partner’s lawsuit alleged that an unlicensed anesthesia provider at the center was involved in her care. The case was voluntarily dismissed after the partner was imprisoned in an unrelated fraud case.

State law bars doctors from operating in an unapproved facility at levels of anesthesia that rob people of their “life-preserving” reflexes.

Whether the facility operated outside of that limit or erred in either woman’s care wasn’t noted when the center got its initial approval to operate in 2017.

With a slightly different, new name, Diamond Surgical Institute, the same location and same lead doctor, the facility now appears to have full accreditation on the state’s website for surgery centers.

Joint Commission spokeswoman Katherine Bronk said the center was awarded “limited temporary accreditation” in 2017 and 2018 after “limited” inspections. Those limited inspections did not include a check of patient medical records because they’re designed for facilities “not actively caring for patients.”

Bronk said in an email that past problems might not affect an accreditation decision.

“If the surgery center had not been following the law but made compliance with the law part of its corrective action plan, it would not necessarily be denied accreditation,” she wrote. “As a private accreditor, our goal is to help organizations identify deficiencies in care and correct them as quickly and sustainably as possible.”

Dardashti did not respond to calls or email requests for an interview. The medical board declined to say whether it has received a report of a patient death from the facility since 2014, saying the information is “confidential.”

State law requires accreditors to perform a “reasonable investigation” of a surgery center’s past, which includes a check to see if its doctors have a license, which Dardashti did. The checks should go deeper, said Imholz, of Consumers Union.

“If past is prologue, we should be looking at what the key players, owners and doctors involved, what they have in their records,” she said. “It’s relevant; it should be looked at.”


KHN’s coverage related to aging and improving care of older adults is supported in part by The John A. Hartford Foundation.