Arkansas Health

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Ambulatory Surgery Centers are becoming an increasingly popular choice for minor medical procedures like knee surgery and tissue biopsies. Often, they're cheaper and more convenient than hospitals.

But problems at one such center in Little Rock have garnered national attention, and it's uncertain whether it's indicative of a larger issue.

On July 18, 2014, Faye Watkins got a colonoscopy; a fairly routine, elective procedure that screens for colon cancer. She went to Kanis Endoscopy Center in Little Rock, where its medical director, Dr. Alonzo Williams, performed the procedure.

But when she woke up, she wasn't at the clinic; she was down the street, at Baptist Health Medical Center. Watkins had stopped breathing almost immediately after her procedure. She was revived, but suffered a brain injury from the lack of oxygen. 

Daniel Breen / Arkansas Public Media

Among all the popular measures on the Arkansas ballot this November, none is as hydra-headed, or has forged unlikely alliances, as Issue 1.

It would give the legislature rulemaking power over the courts and put a limit on fees collected by trial lawyers in lawsuits. The most talked about element, though, is that it would cap courtroom awards for plaintiff's seeking punitive damages and compensation for pain and suffering — though it wouldn't limit awards for lost wages or hospital bills, or in cases of intentional misconduct — at $500,000.

Nationally, this kind of amendment is what is commonly referred to as "tort reform."

Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Amidst more revelations of problems tied to Arkansas’s nascent medical marijuana program, the architect of the state’s voter-approved amendment is calling for commissioners to abandon their process of scoring cultivation applications.

Attorney David Couch says the merit-based scoring system has been plagued with allegations that have rocked public confidence in the process.

Arkansas has seen a record number of flu deaths this year, 215, and the severity of the virus has taken Arkansans by surprise.

State chief epidemiologist Dr. Dirk Haselow says the health department doesn’t really know why there were more deaths this year, but one reason could be that Influenza B dominated this year, and it is more deadly that Influenza A.

Workgroups organized by AFMC are trying to combat adverse childhood experiences.
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A recent study published by Child Trends found that 56 percent of children in Arkansas have had at least one adverse childhood experience, or ACE, compared to the national average of 45 percent. That's the highest of any state in the nation. An ACE is defined as a "potentially traumatic event, ranging from abuse and neglect to living with an adult with a mental illness. They can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being in childhood or later in life."

When it comes to ballot initiatives, David Couch is a numbers man: for instance, 58 in 2020.

In early March Couch, who's authored or campaigned for more than 20 ballot initiatives, told those gathered at a Rotary Club 99 luncheon that he has ballot language all ready for a personal use or "recreational" marijuana amendment. It's just sitting on his computer.

He just needs to see the question poll at or above 58 percent in Arkansas. Then he will introduce it — the next available presidential election. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge say they’re hoping to stem the death toll from opioid overdose through both lawmaking and litigation.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Cities and counties across Arkansas are joining in a state lawsuit against drug manufacturers, distributors, and other parties involved in the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit filed last week in Crittenden County Circuit Court comes after the Arkansas Municipal League filed a federal lawsuit against 13 major drug manufacturers and distributors last December. The state lawsuit targets 65 defendants ranging from retailers to pharmacies and individual doctors.

Connecticut Department of Public Health

203 people in Arkansas have died from the flu this season, according to the latest report issued Tuesday by the state Department of Health. That’s an increase of six since last week.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, medical director for immunizations, says while the flu is winding down for the season, the death toll is expected to keep rising.

"We’ll continue to likely get more deaths reported as the reporting process continues to go through the steps needed," she said.

Overall, reports from Arkansas’s 75 counties show fewer people are being impacted.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson with Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Director Seema Verma holding a signed and approved waiver for Arkansas's Medicaid program on May 30, 2018.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has at long-last made its decision to add a work requirement for certain low-income people if they way to keep getting health insurance through Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, known as Arkansas Works. The announcement was made Monday at the state’s Capitol building.

CMS Director Seema Verma personally signed and hand-delivered the federal agency’s letter to Governor Asa Hutchinson granting the state’s request.

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