Physician Contracts 101 – Rickard & Associates

Physician contracts are often complex and have unique requirements. We help our clients understand their terms and negotiate their contracts.

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Many of our clients are doctors who are negotiating or renegotiating their employment contracts with their employers. Sometimes with a small health system, hospital, or doctor’s office.

We also have clients who come to us with problems after they have negotiated their own contracts.

Physician contracts are unique, as they have standard employment terms, healthcare provisions, and various employer-related terms, specialization, productivity, and more.

When reviewing your doctor’s contract, make sure you fully understand the following:

  1. Terms of termination. How can your employer terminate your agreement and how much notice are you entitled to receive? 90 days? Again? It is important for you to know how you may be terminated and what other terms are then requested. If you get laid off, does that trigger a payback or non-competition provision? Make sure you fully understand all the potential consequences of termination.
  2. Terms of violation. Some physician contracts describe various infringement remedies that are in addition to statutory remedies. We’ve looked at some extreme solutions, such as specific performance and paying compensation. It is important that you are aware of any potential solutions they have.
  3. Repayment terms. After the expiration or termination of the agreement, are you required to pay anything? Sometimes there are requirements to pay back transfer bonuses, signing bonuses, etc. This can be a very large amount that matures very quickly. Make sure you are aware of and plan for possible repayment.
  4. Non-competitive terms. We always warn physicians against entering into agreements on non-competitive terms. While this may not always be possible, non-competitive terms may affect your ability to work in the future. You need to know what triggers non-competition, is there anything you can do to address non-competition, and how widespread it is.
  5. Compensation terms. Compensation is often the most important provision for our clients. However, this section is often chaotic and confusing. Sometimes contracts don’t even say how compensation will be determined in future years of the contract. Other physician contracts have productivity-based compensation, which can be concerning as it leaves the employer a lot of latitude. We recommend getting the guaranteed amount of compensation for as long as possible, depending on your circumstances.

And much more.

We have seen the trend of doctor’s contracts becoming more complex and burdensome for doctors.

It is important that you fully negotiate your contract before you start work and that you fully understand your agreement.

We recommend working with an experienced healthcare attorney so you don’t tarnish your relationship with the employer and so you are aware of any potential pitfalls.

If you need help reviewing or negotiating your doctor’s appointment, we can help. Contact Rickard & Associates today.

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