Fighting a five-finger discount in your veterinary practice

Fighting a five-finger discount in your veterinary practice

Q: We have an inventory item that has repeatedly been short when counted. It's a very specific eye medication ordered in limited quantities, and only a handful of clients use the medication. One of the clients has recently been sent to collections, and she happens to be related to a team member. I fear that the missing medication is walking out of the clinic in the hands of an employee. How would you recommend that I approach this employee? We are prepared to fire her for the crime, but we have no proof..
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Jun 01, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

We have an inventory item that has repeatedly been short when counted. It's a very specific eye medication ordered in limited quantities, and only a handful of clients use the medication. One of the clients has recently been sent to collections, and she happens to be related to a team member. I fear that the missing medication is walking out of the clinic in the hands of an employee. How would you recommend that I approach this employee? We are prepared to fire her for the crime, but we have no proof that she's the culprit. Help! —Suspicious of sticky fingers

Ouch! This is a tough one, but if you don't have proof that the team member is stealing, there's not much you can do.

Right now it looks as though the evidence is circumstantial at best. I see two choices:

1. Put cameras in your practice, and explain exactly what's happening at a staff meeting.

2. Offer a minimal reward to anyone with proof that the items are indeed walking out the door. Also offer the culprit a chance to confess and keep his or her job if he or she makes restitution.

I also recommend that your practice treats the drug as a controlled substance. Make all employees sign for use of the medication until the incident passes or the suspect leaves the practice.
—Shawn

Got a question? Ask Shawn.

Maybe you're tired of babysitting your team members. Perhaps you're looking for strategies to beat a bully. Shawn can help. Shawn McVey, MA, MSW, is a member of the Firstline and Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory boards and CEO of McVey Management Solutions in Chicago. Email your questions for him to
. Then visit http://dvm360.com/mcvey to read McVey's advice on other hot topics. And catch Shawn live Aug. 23 at CVC in Kansas City. Visit http://thecvc.com/ to learn more.

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