Sacred Heart Hospital has had its license revoked by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The hospital had been closed since July 1, following an FBI raid. The State determined that the facility was “not fit, willing and able to provide a proper standard of care.” The FBI raid concerned questionable billing practices as well as allegations of fraud and a kickback scheme to obtain greater funds from Medicare and Medicaid. Federal officials are also looking into five or more patient deaths potentially stemming from failures by the hospital and doctors employed there to see to the health and safety of patients.
The individuals injured by the negligence of the hospital and staff, as well as the families of the people who died as a result of medical negligence faced a difficult choice. Finding reliable information regarding the safety record of a medical facility is not a simple matter. Patient safety advocacy groups encourage patients and their families to do research and ask questions to make sure the treatment being recommended is right for the patient. Some groups, including Consumer Reports and the Leapfrog Group conduct surveys to identify which hospitals provide the safest experience for patients. Even these surveys have gaps and may offer an incomplete picture for patients researching a specific facility.
It is not always clear when an injury or fatality is due to the negligence of physicians, surgeons, hospitals or other medical providers. Many facilities discourage the dissemination of this information. It is important for patients and their loved ones to take an active role throughout the process. Hospitals and doctors make mistakes. Patients should feel empowered to see that the care they receive is in line with the expected standard of care. When an injury does occur, it is the patient that will suffer the consequences.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Illinois revokes license of troubled Sacred Heart Hospital,” by Peter Frost, 6 September 2013