Whistleblowing Coder Sues Endo Center After Losing Her Job
Woman claims she was fired after bringing improper billing practices to light.
A coding specialist who drew attention to allegedly improper billing practices at her facility that increased reimbursement from Medicare and private insurers says that she was fired in retaliation for her honesty, according to a lawsuit filed last month.
In a complaint filed Jan. 28 in U.S. District Court in Charleston, S.C., Kathleen M. Ingebretson says that her employers at the Elms Digestive Disease Center "wanted to bill a certain way to maximize their reimbursements and payments regardless of the services provided." Ms. Ingebretson alleges that "the codes did not match the services provided, consults or medical records."
After she brought up the alleged improper billing issue several times with her employers and coworkers, Ms. Ingebretson was eventually fired by the Charleston-based center in May 2008. Ms. Ingebretson is suing for retaliation and age discrimination. She alleges that one of the center's physicians had asked her how old she was and later said: "Isn't it time you retired?" Ms. Ingebretson claims that she was replaced by a younger employee.
The center has not yet filed an answer to the complaint. The attorneys representing the center and Ms. Ingrebretson did not return phone calls for comment.
A hearing in the case is set for June 1 in Charleston.