A physician’s contract defines their employment with a hospital, medical clinic, and other healthcare settings. Employment contracts outline all the details, expectations, and guidelines for the business relationship. It sets the tone for the following year, or more.
For doctors, the contract contains complicated language, details, and intricacies that protect the employer. Thus, physicians must review it before signing.
The following are seven contract review mistakes that physicians frequently make.
1. Depending on Verbal Agreements
People yearn for the old times when a handshake agreement carried its weight in gold. There was no need to go beyond the handshake. As society became more litigious, the handshake and verbal agreement became less reliable.
In 2021, it’s important to ensure that all details of a verbal agreement make their way into the official contract. Verbal agreements don’t hold up in court anymore.
Depending on verbal agreements alone is a common contract review mistake physicians frequently make.
2. Failing to Review the Restrictive Covenants
A contract protects the employer as much as the physician. In some instances, the contract protects the interests of the employer more than the physician.
For example, if the physician ends the contract, the employer protects itself first. Failing to review the restrictive covenants is a common mistake physicians make.
The restrictive covenants place limitations on the actions of the physician post-employment in the form of non-compete and non-disclosure clauses.
For more information, check out the Physicians Thrive guide on restrictive covenants and contract review.
3. Overlooking the Small Details
It’s easy to assume the small details of an employment contract, such as the start and end date. However, it’s a common physician contract review mistake.
Instead of assuming, all physicians help themselves by reviewing their contract’s small details.
If you’re expecting a particular benefits package, the only way to ensure you receive it is to double-check that the contract specifies it. As a physician, you can negotiate health, vision, and dental benefits into the contract.
Vacation and sick days are other common benefits. Some physicians receive monetary credits for continuing education and relocation expenses.
4. Not Reading the Expected Duties and Responsibilities
Every physician excels at a skill set. It’s normal to expect that you’ll work within your expertise. Some medical employers expect physicians to be team players.
Some hospitals stipulate that their doctors serve a few hours at their free clinic. The contract also outlines administrative duties, workspace, and on-call expectations. Therefore, it’s important to review the expected duties and responsibilities before signing the contract.
5. Failing to Review the Termination Details
The average length of a physician’s contract is one to two years. When the business relationship works, it’s possible to automatically renew the contract. Sometimes changes cause contracts to stop delivering optimal results.
For example, a change in management at a hospital changes the operations. If the changes strain the business relationship, it’s normal for a physician to exit instead of remain. If the desire to exit is one-sided, the physician needs to know their rights under the termination section. So, review them before signing.
6. Overlooking the Insurance Requirements
In a litigious society, all business professionals must carry insurance. Physicians are not an exception. Malpractice insurance is part of practicing medicine.
The physician’s contract outlines any other insurance requirements. Professional, liability and life insurance are three more policies an employer may require of a physician.
Extra insurance protects the physician and their place of employment.
7. Failing to Consult with a Legal Professional Before Signing
The legal profession has several areas of focus. Some lawyers focus exclusively on reviewing contracts for professionals, such as physicians. Attorneys with experience can spot common contract pitfalls. They address them with their client and can suggest ways to address them.
As a physician, you’re expected to perform your job according to your skillset. It’s nearly impossible to understand every aspect of a contract. Therefore, consult with an attorney before signing to avoid a common contract review mistake physicians commonly make.
As more physicians become employees, more are signing contracts at their place of employment. The contract defines the relationship between the two entities. Overlooking the details can cause legal troubles when exiting the place of employment or when trying to take a vacation. Physicians who understand their contracts have more successful work relationships with their employers.