...for One of These Employee Embezzlement Schemes?
Do you think your practice is safe from embezzlement? Don't be so sure. According to Unique Opportunities, The Physician's Resource magazine, "employee theft in physician practices is extremely common, and is, in fact, committed in virtually every practice at some point."
Small practices are especially vulnerable because physicians tend to trust their practice "family." Some common ways employees have used to embezzle are:
- Pocketing cash copayments from patients and not posting the charge or payment;
- Opening a checking account under a false name, then writing a "patient refund check" to that name;
- Handing the busy physician a stack of checks to sign, including an extra one (for example, to pay the employee's residential electric bill);
- Pocketing part of a cash payment from patients, then substituting a bogus encounter form that reflects a lower amount owed;
- Falsely recording past-due accounts as written off, then collecting from the patient.
- Purposely paying a bill twice, then pocketing the resulting refund;
- Making a rubber stamp of the physician's signature and using it to make an extra paycheck or to pay personal bills; and
- Substituting an insurance check for cash taken, then not posting the insurance check.
To protect your practice, implement internal controls that should include a system of checks and balances as well as standard procedures for writing checks and handling bank statements, incoming checks, payroll, and cash.
If you suspect your practice may be at risk for embezzlement, call on TMA Practice Consulting for help. A TMA consultant can assess your practice's vulnerability and recommend a customized plan to reduce your risk.
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