Ask appropriate questions
Appearances are important. If employees perceive internal controls are in place, that could be a deterrent to theft. For example,
when you require daily cash reconciliations that compare the cash reported on the deposit slip to the cash reported on the
end-of-day summaries receipt book, prior experienced overages and shortages seem to disappear.
Such frequent reconciliations are required for very liquid, desirable assets that have a high predisposition for theft. The
daily reconciliation does not negate the possibility of theft, but it is quickly noted, along with the appropriate inquisitions.
You quickly avert a more substantial loss and potential major risk.
Limit accessibility to practice assets only to those who have a business purpose in using them. Blank checks, for instance,
should be stored off-site or in a safe. Distribute small numbers as needed to the person preparing checks. Blank checks should
be inaccessible to anyone else.
Large caches of inventory purchased in bulk at the beginning of a season (heartworm or flea-and-tick products) can be stashed
in a central supply, accessible only to a small number of people who disburse the caches to other areas of the hospital.
An independent viewpoint
Analysis of internal controls in your practice and assessment of the inherent risk can occur through your CPA. Such an analysis
demands an investment. Many practitioners are unwilling to pay more than a nominal amount for the service until a loss has
In general, CPAs offer internal-control studies to clients in a separate management consultation. Because every practitioner
has a different tolerance for risk, a study of internal controls for each should be tailored to the situation. The practice
administrator, manager and accountant or consultant should map out a plan of investigation of existing internal controls to
determine where the greatest risk exists.
Dr. Heinke is owner of Marsha L. Heinke, CPA Inc. and can be reached at (440) 926-3800 or via e-mail at