$5 Million Typo – The Importance of Controls

Read this story about a $5 million dollar “typo.” Most of us also remember the stock market crash caused when a broker typed 15 billion shares instead of 15 million, which was dubbed the fat-fingered market crash.

I recently heard a story from an employee who caught a $500,000 bill that should have been $5,000 by calling the provider who confirmed the one day stay was not a half-million bucks.

The world is becoming more automated and the pace of decision making is picking up every day.  This means these simple mistakes are easier to make today, and can have a much more powerful impact than in days past.  These stories call out how basic common sense controls must be a part of any operations or system.

In our world of medical payments, a typo on our employees’ part or the provider’s part could cause massive overpayments if we’re not diligent and don’t have excellent controls in place. In a healthcare system that is in dire financial straights, we have a responsibility to our clients to find typos and negotiate inaccuracies, so no one is paying a penny more than they have to.

It is difficult to think of every possible mistake that could occur in every industry, but it is possible to make a reasonable pass up front and put those controls in place for every product, service or system.  It is also imperative that every company create a self learning process, where if a mistake is made, the organization learns from it, and puts controls in place to prevent the same mistake from occurring again.  These micro improvements add up to a bullet proof process and system over time.