Kickback Scheme Arrests at Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital

Doctors perform perhaps the most important tasks of any professional: keeping us healthy. Considering the magnitude of their work, all medical care providers are held to high standards, as the consequences of mistakes are as serious as it gets. Quality patient care must be the priority at all times, and nothing can be allowed to get in the way of that.

Yet, time and again some medical care providers place profits over patients. Instead of making all decisions based on the best interest of those who are relying on them, these parties look first to their own bottom line. It even happens here in our neck of the woods
Problems at Sacred Heart
The Chicago Tribune is reporting on arrests being made of administrators and others allegedly involved in a comprehensive Medicare fraud and kickback scheme. The allegations are incredibly troubling, and they suggest that a wide range of patients may have received unnecessary care as a result of the facility seeking to make money at taxpayer expense.

According to the report, the hospital was under investigation for at least three years. That investigation culminated this week with the arrests of the hospital’s owner, Edwark Novak, another executive, Roy Payawal of Burr Ridge, and four physicians: Venkateswara Kuchipudi, Percy Conrad May Jr., Subir Maitra, and Shanin Moshiri.

Investigators suggest that the involved parties knowingly had patients undergo a wide range of treatments in order to increase their reimbursements. The story suggests that the wrongdoers collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickback cash as well as millions in health insurance reimbursements for the unnecessary procedures.

Patients Harmed at Sacred Heart
Make no mistake, this is not some paperwork crime–the health and well-being of patients were directly affected. For example, the article notes how in one case a patient was ordered to be heavily sedated by a doctor. The sedation wasn’t necessary but it made it more difficult for the patient to be taken off a ventilator. The hospital was often paid significantly for those extensive care. In addition, this process often made it necessary for a tracheotomy to be performed. The hospital again received significant funds as a result of that surgery that otherwise would not have been necessary. The hospital owner was allegedly recorded admitting that the tracheotomies were the company’s “biggest moneymaker,” with profits reaching over $165,000 if the patient stayed for at least 27 days afterward.

Reports suggest that one doctor performed about 28 of those procedures over a few year period, and five of those patients died within weeks of the operation. That mortality rate is significantly higher than statewide averages, suggesting that the quality of care was lower. And it is heartbreaking to consider that the surgeries may not have been needed at all.

This sort of conduct is unconscionable. Many residents on Chicago’s west side who were treated at this facility were likely subject to medical malpractice, and serious injury and death undoubtedly is connected to the facility’s drive for profits. It is important for both the civil and criminal law to be used to ensure these parties be held responsible for their actions.

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