Practice Management Q&As

July 8, 2005

Signing checks; intruders; donating equipment; toner spills

Should a new office manager sign checks?Q: Would it be a good idea to put a dollar limit on our new office manager's check writing authority until she's been with the practice a few months?

A: Writing checks and signing them are two different things. It's okay for your office manager to prepare the checks, but she should give them to you-along with the appropriate invoices-to sign.

If your practice is so large that it's impractical for a physician to sign every check, you might authorize your office manager to sign those for $500 or less-but only after she's been bonded and has passed a lengthy trial period. Even then, you or your accountant should review those expenditures periodically.

A: Leave on two or three low lights throughout the office to alert a watchman or passing law officer to any movement within. If your office or building is protected by an electronic security system, turn off all the lights.

Discourage abuse of sick daysQ: I provide my staff with six sick days a year-with no carryover of any unused days to the following year. My office manager suspects this policy encourages employees to take time off when they're not really ill. Is there any way to prevent this?

A: Reward employees who have unused sick days remaining at the end of the year by allowing them to carry over half the unused time. Let them accumulate a maximum of 25 days to be used as a short-term sick leave benefit. If an employee still has sick days left in the bank when she retires, you could offer to convert them to cash-either in full, or at a partial rate.

Donating medical equipment Q: When I retire in a few months, I'd like to donate my medical equipment to a worthy nonprofit organization. Can you suggest some?

A: Try one of the following organizations. Your donation may be tax deductible.

American Medical Resources Foundation
( http://www.amrf.com)

Clear Path International
( http://www.cpi.org)

AMICUS Foundation
( http://www.amicusfoundation.org)

Direct Relief International
( http://www.directrelief.org)

International Medical Equipment Collaborative
( http://www.imecamerica.org)

Rescue Life
( http://www.rescuelife.org)

How to clean up toner spills safelyQ: The other day, we had an accident at the printer, and toner ended up on the floor. The office manager refused to allow the staff to clean it up with a vacuum cleaner. She said this could cause an explosion. Is she right? What's the right way to clean up spilled toner?