Man questions wife's death after Sacred Heart doctors accused in kickback scheme

April 17, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"Lord, have mercy. I wish I had paid more close attention to what she was saying," Carr said. Joann, an asthmatic, was intubated with a plastic tube down her throat while she was a patient at Sacred Hospital.

Doctors at the hospital are now accused of performing unnecessary medical procedures for Medicare and Medicaid payments in a kickback scheme.

"She was trying to talk but she couldn't, you know cause she couldn't get her words out," Carr said. "She was bucking her eyes like she was trying to tell us something."

Joann died -- while still intubated -- 18 days later. She was 49 years old and diabetic, but friends and family say her final hospitalization did not at first appear to be a matter of life and death.

The Reverend Paul Jakes, whose church is across the street from the hospital, remembered visiting member Joann Carr at Sacred Heart and seeing what he called her "desperate" eye movement.

"I looked at her eyes and asked her if they were treating you ok and her eyes indicated she was not being treated well," Rev. Jakes said.

On Tuesday, the United States Attorney said federal agents seized hospital records to look for evidence of illegal, unnecessary procedures--including intubations and tracheotomies -- for the purpose of collecting Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements.

The raid followed the arrests of Sacred Heart's owner, chief financial officer, and four doctors.

Carr said the investigation led him to rethink the last days of his wife's hospitalization.

"She was trying to tell me something. She was trying to tell me she really didn't need this machine down her mouth," Carr said.

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