More thoughts on Embezzlement

I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Mr. David Harris of Prosperident while we were both attending the Chicago MidWinter dental meeting. He shared some seriously scary stories over coffee and definitely established himself as the dental embezzlement expert.

Here’s what I learned:

  • There’s no way to be perfectly safe from theft. Criminals are smart and they know how dental practices operate.
  • The average amount stolen from dentists is $157,000. Ouch.
  • Setting up systems in the practice like using passwords or really listening to patient complaints are good ideas especially if they serve more than one benefit, not just as a theft-deterrent.
  • What we can do is to profile our staff – do we see anyone living beyond their means or never wanting any time off so they can “protect” their work? Criminals often have a similar profile of behavior that can be identified.

Interestingly enough, a specialist I know just had an incident in her solo office last week. The doctor walked back to the front desk to say one more thing to her patient and happened to notice a note on a claim asking the insurer to pay the patient directly. This seemed odd, so she went back to her office and checked this patient’s ledger – nothing charged out. She waited until end of the day and talked with her office manager. The office manager changed her story three times during the conversation and ended up in tears. The specialist decided to fire her, but instead the office manager just never returned to work. Problem solved.

Maybe it was nothing. Maybe it was the first time. However, hearing stories this close to home just goes to show you that we may need the services of Mr. David Harris at one time or another. So, here’s to profiling our staff, avoiding embezzlement and hopefully only having breakfast with an investigator – not having to hire one!

For more ideas to improve the business-side of your dental practice:

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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