Monthly Archives: September 2013

Employee Embezzlement in the Pharmacy Setting

Although many pharmacists assume only large cash-flow corporations are the targets of embezzlement, in reality, small and medium-sized businesses are typically the most vulnerable to employee embezzlement. 

Pharmacists want to trust their employees.  However, it is not unusual for even the most long-term, smartest, and seemingly most loyal pharmacy employees to embezzle from their employer.  Therefore, pharmacists must be alert for employee embezzlement. 

Often, pharmacists spend most of their day managing the store, the patients and customers, and failing prescriptions instead of closely supervising their staff members.  In this type of atmosphere, embezzlement can thrive. 

Recent reports have indicated that in the United States employee theft attributed to forty-four percent (44%) of the total percentage of retail theft and that the average employee theft case totals approximately $1,000.00.  Unfortunately, employee embezzlement alone may turn a profitable store into an unprofitable one.

It is prudent for pharmacists to invest in point-of-sale technologies designed for pharmacies.  These systems will improve customer service, streamline workflow, provide analysis as to how the store is performing and provide a greater depth of employee management. 

A point-of-sale system allows a pharmacist to prohibit the discounting of certain items and to pre-program discounts to certain groups of customers.  This limits the amount of discount that a pharmacy employee may provide to a customer and eliminates the guess work in determining whether a customer belongs to a group that is allowed a discount (i.e. senior citizens, employees, etc.).  In addition, this feature prohibits employees from exceeding permissible discounts for friends and family.

Due to credit and payment card industry security regulations, all point-of-sale systems require employee log-in in order to access the system or run the cash register. 

This feature allows the pharmacist to audit all activity of the register.  In order to prevent employees from sharing or stealing the passwords of other employees, fingerprint logins are an important investment that will provide an extra layer of accountability.

Point-of-sale technologies provide methods of ensuring that cashiers are ringing sales correctly and giving correct change.  Many systems provide a “dual-drawer” component, so that each employee is responsible for their own cash drawer and the money contained inside.  In addition, point-of-sale systems allow pharmacists to print daily, weekly and month reports to understand the pharmacy’s business.  These reports will show drawer pops, returns, no sales, voids and item deletions performed by each cashier. 

With a little precaution, the financial hardship of employee embezzlement can be avoided. By implementing these systems, a pharmacist can effectively manage his or her exposure to the increasingly common (and costly) occurrence of employee embezzlement.  Also, with proper employee screening, proper control and oversight, as well as prudent financial control, a devastating financial loss can be avoided.

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