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Sacred Heart Hospital Scandal Continues: Doctor Arrested For Prescribing Narcotics Without A License

Apr 19, 2013 10:48 AM EDT
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Police arrested Sacred Heart Hospital Dr. Kenneth Nave, 50, for prescribing powerful narcotics without a license, as stated in a public criminal complaint Thursday.
(Photo : Flickr ZoI87)

Police arrested Sacred Heart Hospital Dr. Kenneth Nave, 50, for prescribing powerful narcotics without a license, as stated in a public criminal complaint Thursday.

According to the federal complaint, Nave used the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number of a colleague only referred to as "Physician I" in order to issue more than 100 prescriptions for the painkiller hydrocodone between Nov. 1 to Feb 25.

Records show that while Nave's license to practice medicine was reinstated after it was revoked for drug and alcohol abuse a decade earlier, his license to prescribe drugs never was.

And nor did Nave act alone: a conversation secretly recorded by a hospital administrator working with federal officials reveals hospital CEO Edward Novak was aware of the issue, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"From now on, (Physician I)'s got to do everything," Novak is recorded as saying. "Otherwise you're going to have a problem. You've already got two strikes against you. You know what I mean?"

Novak then encouraged Nave to "keep a low profile" and stop handing out prescriptions.

"(You) could come and see patients, shake their hands and everything, but don't do any writing," Novak allegedly said.

Novak has since been arrested with four other physicians that, prosecutors say, administered risky procedures to the poor and elderly that they didn't need as part of a Medicare, Medicaid kickback scheme.

In fact, one informant allegedly recorded Novak as saying at one point that tracheotomies were the hospital's "biggest moneymaker."

According to the Chicago Tribune, one uncharged physician performed 28 of the throat surgeries in just over two years, five of whom died within two weeks of surgery - a number triple the statewide mortality rate for Medicaid patients.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, said Nave was released on bond and is expected to appear in court Friday afternoon.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation suspended Nave's medical license Thursday as soon as they were made aware of the charge.

In all, $2 million have been seized from a number of bank accounts tied to the case according to WGN News.

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