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December 8, 2016
May 9, 2017

How to Deter Theft and Fraud in your Veterinary Practice

Monica Dixon Perry

Deterring Theft and Fraud

Embezzlement? Fraud? If you think these tragedies could not take place at your practice, think again! Considering all that practice managers and practice owners must deal with, it is unfortunate that this topic has to be brought up. The good news is that there are ways to help prevent either from taking place. The following are tips to assist you and your practice in minimizing unnecessary exposure and risk. We are going to look at:

  1. Internal controls
  2. Theft Prevention Policy
  3. Reviewing your practice management system’s fraud prevention guidelines

Internal Controls

Gary Glassman of Burzenski & Co has written an excellent article and provided an internal control checklist to assist practices with understanding and implementing processes to protect their practice. In my opinion, this article and checklist bring an awareness that all industries, not just veterinary, can benefit from.

Here is Gary Glassman’s article, “Do You Know Where Your Internal Controls Are?” and a Free Internal Controls Checklist, courtesy of Burzenski & Company, PC.

Theft Prevention Policy

It is recommended that you include the following in your policies and procedures handbook. It makes it difficult for an employee to claim that they did not know they were not allowed to remove something from the property without permission.  

Theft-Prevention Policy (Example): Internal theft is a serious problem for many businesses. Although taking small items of company property may seem inconsequential, the cumulative effect can be very large. Stealing from ABC Veterinary Hospital, Inc., is like stealing from yourself. Losses from theft immediately affect our ability to increase wages and can jeopardize the profitability of ABC Veterinary Hospital, Inc. ABC Veterinary Hospital, Inc., will not tolerate property theft of any type. We consider property theft to include the unauthorized use of company services or facilities or the taking of any company property for personal use. Violators of this policy will be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including possible discharge and prosecution. (SHRM.org)

Practice Management System Fraud Prevention Guidelines

The top three PMS companies offer software specific fraud prevention guidelines. What I have found, more often than not, is that most managers and owners are not aware that this information is available at their fingertips. In addition to these guidelines, it is recommended that high level passwords not be used on a daily basis while working on the floor.  It is recommended that you create a low-level password so that those watching will not oversee your typing and possibly use it to their advantage.

The following are links for your reference.  If your PMS company is not listed, it is recommended that you contact your company’s technical support directly for their guidelines.

AVImark: https://www.avimark.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Theft_Deterrent.pdf

Cornerstone: https://www.idexx.com/small-animal-health/products-and-services/cornerstone-software.html

Impromed: “Impromed Document – Detecting Employee Theft” PDF

In summary, it is important to do everything that you can to safeguard your practice, and these three steps will certainly better position your practice for the future. Remember that embezzlers are not born embezzlers, it is when the opportunities arise that unfortunate scenarios take place.

Learn how to protect your practice and more at Monica Dixon Perry, CVPM's seminar, Principles of Veterinary Practice Management.

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