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Chicago doctors, hospital executives arrested for kickback scheme

Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported that several doctors and at least two hospital officials were arrested for being involved in an alleged kickback scheme at Sacred Heart Hospital. After the arrests were made, authorities reported that they had been investigating the hospital for three years.

Authorities suspected that hospital officials and doctors were performing unnecessary operations on Medicaid patients to make more money. At least one Sacred Heart doctor was arrested for illegally prescribing medications. These recent arrests may certainly have many Chicago patients and their families worried about the quality of their health care. Unnecessary surgeries may result in serious health complications, or even death. And when patients are prescribed drugs by someone who is not able to do so legally, they may be at risk of suffering severe or fatal injuries from medication errors.

Of course, there are many doctors and hospitals in Illinois that focus on providing patients with quality care based on their unique needs and medical conditions, but patients should understand that they also have a right to question doctors’ motives when considering undergoing surgical procedures and taking new medications. Hospitals and doctors do receive incentives for promoting certain procedures and medications, and it is important that patients understand whether undergoing a procedure or taking a medication is necessary or safe.

According to the Chicago Tribune, two hospital officials at Sacred Heart allowed four doctors to perform unnecessary tracheotomies on patients in order to obtain kickbacks. These surgeries were performed on vulnerable patients, exposing them to risks that they should not have been exposed to. Authorities reported that at least five patients died within two weeks of having the operations performed. The arrests were finally made last week in order to make sure no more patients were harmed by the doctors’ and officials’ kickback scheme, federal investigators reported.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “5th doctor arrested in Sacred Heart probe,” Jason Meisner, April 19, 2013

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