Regulation Matters 2020 - Issue 1, May

Is Backdating an Invoice OK?

Practice Scenario

At our Fall 2019 Workshops, Ethics & Professionalism – Knowing and Doing, we discussed a private practice scenario about billing involving a client’s request to change the date of service provision (backdating).  What do you think? Is backdating on an invoice OK?

Backdating an invoice may seem like a minor thing, but it is never OK. It can have serious implications if not appropriately addressed.

When being pressured by clients or peers, you might find it difficult to say that you cannot backdate an invoice. Being prepared in advance for the question and knowing your obligations will help you make good decisions in the moment and, if appropriate, to propose alternatives to your client in keeping with your legal and professional obligations.

1. Know your billing obligations

It is possible that the client may not realize that changing the date of service is unacceptable. Explain that you cannot backdate a receipt. A failure to maintain honest and informed billing would be considered professional misconduct and would compromise your professional practice. Invoices, receipts and accounts must accurately record services provided and this includes recording the correct date of service provision.

It is a dietitian’s responsibility to ensure professional billing and record keeping practices are transparent, honest and accurate. If you are unsure of your professional billing and record keeping obligations, refer to the Code of Ethics, Professional Standards For Record Keeping, and billing practices. You are also invited to call the Practice Advisory Service for answers to your questions.  In addition, you can contact your client’s benefit provider for clarification.    

2. Make Professional Decisions

Compassion for the client’s financial situation or health equity may influence a decision to backdate an invoice. In practice, factors like client satisfaction, personal values or beliefs may impact your decisions for safe, client-centred care but they must never compromise your legal billing obligations. Reflecting on your legal obligations and committing to honest billing will help you make professional decisions in the moment to resist backdating requests from clients.

3. Find Alternative Solutions, If Possible

If the client expresses financial concerns, a dietitian may address these without compromising their professional and legal obligations. How issues are addressed is up to individual dietitians, on a case by case basis. Options might include providing a discount for services or referring the client to services in the community.

Key Learning Quiz

Is backdating OK? Is it OK to backdate an invoice to help a client?

Contact the Practice Advisory Service at
416-598-1725/1-800-668-4990, ext. 397