The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


October 9, 2013

Trial update: Firefighters not told to code at higher rate, McGovern says


DAVENPORT — McGovern told the jury that contrary to Schultheis' account that he had brought his concerns about the coding procedures forward to McGovern six times, only two conversations about coding occurred between the two.  

The first was during a class McGovern was teaching a shift of firefighter paramedics about patient documentation, which included telling them to be as accurate and detailed on patient care reports as possible, McGovern said.

Schultheis asked how an ambulance run could be coded as ALS when only a BLS skill was used. McGovern said he directed Schultheis to the ALS assessment rule. According to that rule, ALS requires an emergency response and an ALS assessment or an ALS intervention.  

The second conversation occurred sometime later, at the end of 2007 after Schultheis' supervisor, Battalion Chief Joel Atkinson, told Schultheis to direct his coding concerns to McGovern.  

Schultheis told McGovern he felt the department was over-coding the mode of transport, McGovern said. McGovern tried to reason with Schultheis about the coding by using the various training guides and the Medicare guide, he testified.

At that point Schultheis became "agitated" and "upset" and began yelling, McGovern said.

"He said he was right and we were wrong; he wasn't going to lose his paramedic license because of us," McGovern said.

McGovern testified he told Schultheis to put the concern in writing so he could follow through on the complaint. Both McGovern and Schultheis testified no complaints were ever made in writing.  

During the course of the False Claims suit McGovern was sent to further seminars on coding and maintained his belief that the city was coding properly, he said.  

When he learned the city had settled the case in September 2010 he was shocked because, he testified, the fire department had consistently and accurately applied the coding rules dictated by Medicare and other guides.  

"We did not see where there was a problem," he said.

McGovern's testimony will continue Wednesday afternoon.

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