Preventing Embezzlement

There are many opportunities for employee embezzlement to occur in a business or practice. There are, however, certain steps you can take to help prevent employee embezzlement. You must be diligent.

  • Make smart hiring decisions
  • Screen all potential employees
  • Conduct background checks on all employees
  • Educate yourself on how employees embezzle
  • Protect your signature and identity
  • Learn how to use your computer system
  • Check your day sheets, audit changes, preview daily reports and question all adjustments
  • Make sure to verify all credit card charges
  • Be visible, vary your schedule, practice what you preach

A business or practice owner must take the necessary steps to prevent embezzlement. Review your policies and procedures, and begin implementing the specific preventative safeguards.

STAYING CLEAR OF WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION PROBLEMS IN YOUR BUSINESS

OSHA is becoming very active in the day to day operations of a business, especially in the enforcement of employees’ rights. An area that is surfacing in the business is OSHA’s enforcement of the whistleblower statute. It may not be well-known, but OSHA oversees whistleblower protection investigations not only for its own jurisdiction, but for 12 other regulatory areas.

If an employee in a practice reports a violation of Federal law (OSHA, Labor, etc.), the employee report and the violation of federal law (e.g., an OSHA complaint) is protected from retaliation by the business owner. An innocent personnel action taken by a business owner may be seen as a whistleblower retaliation by OSHA.

The following actions by a practice owner may be considered retaliatory action, and be a violation of Federal law:

❒ Firing or laying off an employee

❒ Assigning employee to undesirable shifts

❒ Blacklisting the employeedocumentation

❒ Demoting the employee

❒ Denying the overtime or promotion to the employee

❒ Disciplining the employee

❒ Denial of benefits to the employee

❒ Intimidation by the practice owner

❒ Reassigning work to the employee

❒ Reducing pay or hours of the employee

It is strongly recommended that before any personnel matters are handled by a business owner or office manager, it is always prudent to seek professional guidance in order to avoid violation of state or federal law.

 
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range of legal issues for businesses including transitions and sales, real estate transactions, lease agreements, employment law and entity formation.

For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com

If you would like Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. to speak at an event, please contact Katharine Drum, Marketing Coordinator (kath@obermanlaw.com).

Tips for Cyber Security in Your Veterinary Practice: PART II

With the risk of a cyber security breach increasing on a daily basis, below are some tips that will help a practice owner maintain the security that they need in order to protect safeguard data.

Plan for the Unexpected

❒ Unless your confidential data is totally disconnected from the internet, you must install a firewall to protect against intrusions from outside sources.

❒ Software firewalls are included with some popular operating systems, providing protection at the installation stage.

❒ Alternatively, separate firewall software is widely available from computer security developers.

❒ Large practices that use a Local Area Network (LAN) should consider a hardware firewall.

❒ A hardware firewall sits between LAN and the Internet, providing centralized management of firewall settings.

Install and Maintain Anti-virus Software

❒ Use an anti-virus product that provides continuously updated protection against viruses, malware, and other code that can attack your computers through web downloads, CDs, email, and flash drives.

❒ Keep anti-virus software up-to-date.

❒ Most anti-virus software automatically generates reminders about these updates, and many are configurable to allow for automated updating.

 
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range of legal issues for the veterinary profession including employment law, cyber security, practice sales, real estate transactions, lease agreements, OSHA compliance, veterinary board complaints, and entity formation.

For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.comIf you would like Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. to speak at an event, please contact Katharine Drum, Marketing Coordinator (kath@obermanlaw.com).

Tips for Cyber Security in Your Veterinary Practice: PART I

With the risk of a cyber-security breach increasing on a daily basis, below are some tips that will help a practice owner maintain the security that they need in order to protect patient information.

Use Strong Passwords and Change Them Regularly

Selecting Passwords

Choose a password that is not easily guessed. Below are some examples of strong password characteristics:

❒ At least eight characters in length (the longer the better).

❒ A combination of upper case and lower case letters, one number, and at least one special character, such as a punctuation mark.

Strong passwords should not include personal information, such as:

❒ Birthdate

❒ Names of self, family members, or pets

❒ Social Security Number

❒ Anything that is on your social networking sites or could otherwise be easily discovered by others.

Updating Passwords

Configure your systems so that passwords must be changed on a regular basis.

Resetting Passwords

To discourage staff from writing down their passwords, develop a password reset process to provide quick assistance in case of forgotten passwords. This process could involve:

❒ Allowing two different staff members to be authorized to reset passwords

❒ Selecting a product that has built-in password reset capabilities.

Limit Network Access

❒ Prohibit staff from installing software without prior approval.

❒ When a wireless router is used, set it up to operate only in encrypted mode.

❒ Prohibit casual network access by visitors.

❒ Check to make sure file sharing, instant messaging, and other peer-to-peer applications have not been installed without explicit review and approval.

Control Physical Access

❒ Limit the chances that devices (e.g., laptops, handhelds, desktops, servers, thumb drives, CCs, backup tapes) may be tampered with, lost, or stolen.

❒ Document and enforce policies limiting physical access to devices and information.

❒ Keep machines in locked rooms.

❒ Manage keys to facilities.

❒ Restrict removal of devices from a secure area.

 

 

 

Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range of legal issues for the veterinary profession including employment law, cyber security, practice sales, real estate transactions, lease agreements, OSHA compliance, veterinary board complaints, and entity formation.
For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com
If you would like Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. to speak at an event, please contact Katharine Drum, Marketing Coordinator (kath@obermanlaw.com).

Social Media and the Veterinary Practice

The online world is growing. Facebook now boasts a “population” larger than the United States. Thousands of veterinarians are currently taking advantage of social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, &c.) and smartphones. It is important to take a brief look at some important issues and areas of concern for veterinary professionals using or considering the use of social media to build and promote their public, patient, and employee relationships.

 
Public Relations
The advantages of a strong social media presence are clear. Information may be shared with colleagues to sustain camaraderie, with patients to strengthen vet-patient relationships, and with the public to bolster your reputation.
It is vitally important to consult with your legal advisers early and often when bringing your professional presence to an online forum.

 

Patient Relations

If content on your social media page is also medical in nature, depending on the forum, the Health Information Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) may be implicated.
Members of the veterinary profession should adhere to the following guidelines:

(a) Veterinarians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online.
(b) When using the Internet for social networking,veterinarians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible.
(c) If veterinarians interact with patients on the Internet, they must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-vet relationship.
(d) To maintain appropriate professional boundaries veterinarians should consider separating personal and professional content online.
(e) Vets must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, and may have consequences for their professional careers (particularly for veterinarians-in-training and veterinary students), and can undermine public trust in the veterinary profession.

When veterinary professionals provide a social media forum for patient feedback, they risk running afoul of HIPAA rules and regulations. Prior to building a social media presence, it is important to develop policies and procedures designed to guide appropriate use of the relevant forum. A few key points follow:

 

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinic Health Act (HITECH Act), there are substantial penalties and fines that may be assessed for HIPAA violations that occur during social media exchanges. Under the HITECH Act, fines range from $100.00 to $100,000.00.
Be clear with a disclaimer that patient information is personal and should never be shared via the Internet. Inform participants that any posting that appears to be a violation of this policy will be removed.

 

Employee Relations

 
It is important to keep your employees from becoming lax about privacy rules when it comes to social media.
Education is always the first line of defense when it comes to privacy and security safeguards. Make sure all employees are trained and up to date about the privacy and security rules and be sure to disseminate a written company policy outlining permissible and impermissible actions. Make social media training a part of your HIPAA compliance program.
Social media is a powerful tool for expanding a veterinary practice, but be aware of the potential complications. Always consult your legal adviser before branching out into online forums.

 

Receptionist

 

 
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. handles a wide range of legal issues for the veterinary profession including employment law, practice sales, real estate transactions, lease agreements, OSHA compliance, veterinary board complaints, employment law, and entity formation.
For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com

If you would like Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. to speak at an event to your organization, please contact Katharine Drum, Marketing Coordinator (kath@obermanlaw.com)

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