What to Say to Patients Who Ask You to Cheat by Altering the Record(s) and/or Date(s)

Posted on January 8, 2014 by Sandy Pardue


Sometimesbp_740_33567 a patient will ask to bill them at an earlier or later date than the dental treatment was actually done. They do this to try to take advantage of an insurance company by having them to pay for a service that was not covered at the time of treatment. This also occurs when a patient has a waiting period with new insurance coverage.

This is dishonest, and since office policy unequivocally should state to do nothing dishonest, do not do this. The trick is to handle this diplomatically without upsetting the patient and making them feel bad or feel guilty of what they are trying to do. This is very easy, by the way. All you have to do is adopt the standard script below which is only a couple of sentences. If you get these two sentences down and look the patient comfortably in the eye, you have it made.


A patient fractures a tooth and it needs to be restored with a crown. They just got insurance but they have a 90-day waiting period. The patient then asks to date the Insurance Claim so it falls after the waiting period.

“Mr(s). , when a third party such as an insurance company is involved in paying an account, it gives them permission to audit all of our records.” Then say no more; pause and let them talk. That is all that is necessary to handle the situation as they usually will say to forget it. However, if they persist with something like, “Can’t we just change the date?”

Reply, “It’s just not worth it, you could get in trouble because you have to sign the form and Dr. Goodtooth could lose his license.” This will handle it for certain because there is no argument against that, and the penalty is too severe to take the chance.

What Not to Do

Never, never, never make an evaluative statement that will make the patient feel wrong. As already mentioned, you must never make them feel like a cheater. That would be any statement such as:

“That would be cheating.”

“That’s dishonest.”

“Oh, we could never do anything like that.”

Any of the above answers will make them feel small and embarrassed, and will cause them to go to another dentist, so be light and never have a serious demeanor. You can say lightly and laughingly, “Are you kidding? They would get a rope and hang me!” or “Are you joking? Uncle Sam has eyes everywhere!” So, keep your demeanor friendly and caring. They will adopt the same attitude and everybody will be happy.

You can contact me anytime to discuss your practice and how I can help you train your team and implement organizational systems. sandy@classicpractice.com, 1-800-928-9289.