February 2005

I received a call from a local dentist who told me he was in his office last Saturday catching up on work.

He had looked inside a patient chart (yep, paper charts back then) and was stunned to see four $100 bills neatly tucked inside. (the office manager had placed the $100 notes in the patient chart for later retrieval – i.e: to steal)

When finding this money, the doctor felt uneasy and he called me.  I went to his office the next day (Sunday) and started digging through his Dentrix software and business records.

After hour or so, I was able to confirm several clear and compelling examples of theft.

On Monday morning I drove to the doctor’s office to help with firing his office manager. The doctor and I met his office first, then we called the office manager in.

I confronted her with the allegations.

She denied everything.

She cried and begged the doctor to let her keep her job and “don’t involve the police.”

I opened the office door and instructed her to walk ahead of me and off the premises.

Later, I uncovered that during the four years she worked for the dentist, she stole more than $50,000 (in 2005).

She was eventually charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison. The court ordered her to pay the doctor back when she got out of jail; I doubt he ever received a penny.

This dishonest employee was also over-billing insurance companies for work that was not done and deleting computer records to hide her crime.

Guess what else? Supplies were stolen as well.

My Oral-B Pro was purchased in 2013 and still works perfectly!

I discovered that during her last year of work, this ex-office manager had stolen more than 50 “Oral-B Professional” electronic toothbrushes – back then, they cost about $100 each.

She had sold the Oral-B toothbrushes to patients for cash (and kept the money) and also took a dozen home to give away as birthday and Christmas gifts.

She also ordered and subsequently stole hundreds of whitening kits.

How could this happen?

Two ingredients were required:

#1 The office manager was responsible for ordering supplies and was able to order as many products as she anted.

#2 The dentist did not check to see where the supplies went, he just paid the supply invoices when they were presented to him.

Keeping track of supplies

Here’s an easy method to track the use of supplies that your office sells or gives away.

Step 1:

Create a unique “product code” in your practice management software to record when you sell, or give away, products like NiteWhite, MI Paste, Biotene, Oral-B, Sonicare, and more.

(I recommend that you use codes beginning with “P” to designate products you sell or give away.)

Examples:

PMI =  Product MI Paste
PNW =  Product NiteWhite   
PBT =  Product Biotene Rinse

This will allow you to print a report of all products sold or given away each month by selecting a range codes from “PAAA and ending PZZZZ”

Step 2:

Instruct employees that every time your practice sells or gives away a product, it must be “billed” to the patient, no exceptions.

If the product is being sold, the office will charge its usual fee.

If the product is given away, the fee is entered as $0.00

Step 3:

At regular intervals (monthly or quarterly) print a report from your practice management software all the products that were recorded as either being sold or given away .

From this report, count the total number of each product that was sold or given away.

Compare this total against the total number of each product your office ordered from suppliers. You can check your supplier’s invoices for this purpose.

Then, add the “opening count” and subtract the “closing count” to calculate the difference; if any

Example:

Month: January
Item:   MI Paste

Opening count on hand at Jan 1: 12
Number ordered and received:        40
Number sold or given away :        30
Closing count on-hand at Jan 31:       10

(12+40) – (30+10) = 2 = number of MI paste unaccounted for.

This is a simplified overview and just one of the ways to record and track supplies sold and given to patients.   A spreadsheet can be used for this purpose.


Check for red-flags in your practice