Six Forms of Employee Theft: It’s More Prevalent Than You Think
By David Doolittle

Embezzlement

It often starts small. A pocketed $25 co-pay here, an inflated vendor invoice there. When the first swipe goes unnoticed, though, employee theft in a medical practice can expand quickly to schemes involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Meanwhile, studies show that while 82 percent of embezzlers in medical practices are terminated from their job, only 29 percent are prosecuted. This means that thieves could be employed in your practice. 

To help secure your office, it is important to understand the common types of embezzlement and the best prevention measures. 

The most common forms of employee theft in medicine include: 

  • Cash: Pocketing patient payments made in cash, or personal use of petty cash; 
  • Accounts payable: Payments made to fake invoices or vendors;
  • Payroll: Falsifying hours or reports used for bonus calculations, and fake employees or contract labor;
  • Identity theft: Stealing credit card information and medical records;
  • Billing: Incorrect write-offs and adjustments, or processing refunds in the wrong amount or to themselves; and
  • Supplies and services: Using company supplies, medical equipment, or prescription pads for personal use. 

To prevent embezzlement, consider these steps: 

  • Hiring: Conduct thorough interviews, check references, and perform proper background checks;
  • Policies and procedures: Create and document procedures that include checks and balances, and outline consequences for theft; and
  • Pay attention and trust your instincts: Be involved, be visible to your employees, and if something seems odd, check it out. 

If you’re looking for more ways to improve the business side of your practice, TMA’s Practice Consulting team is here to help. Our consultants can perform a variety of services to meet your unique needs. Whether you are a solo practitioner in a rural area or a member of a 50-physician group, our staff can show you how to improve your practice. More information can be found on the TMA website.

This story has been updated.
 

Last Updated On

May 30, 2018

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David Doolittle

Editor

(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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