by Pat Little, DDS, FAGD, CFE
While dental embezzlement is a touchy subject for many doctors, it is a growing problem that cannot be ignored. You spend a lot of time and resources training your team and getting them to “buy in” to your vision of delivering quality patient care. We become close to our teams and, in many cases, they become like extended family. How would you feel if you discovered a valued team member has been stealing from you?
If you have been a victim of embezzlement, you already know how it feels! Many of us think it is unimaginable that someone we trust could resort to embezzlement. We spend most of our time delivering patient care and must rely on our team members to handle most of the patients’ financial transactions. The combination of these factors provides an opportunity for an employee to embezzle. In this article I will explain the challenges you face, and how you can mitigate the financial and emotional burdens that invariably result from being victimized by an embezzler.
Over the past few years a plethora of articles have been published in dental journals discussing embezzlement. The prevailing theme is that by implementing a series of processes called internal controls, doctors can block opportunities for employees to commit embezzlement. Some of the articles suggest that as few as four or five internal controls are sufficient. At the other end of the spectrum, I read one article that listed over 100 internal controls.