When they’d first entered their medical practice, some of my clients had asked an instructor or mentor to review their prospective employment agreement for them. Although these people may have been excellent physicians or teachers, they weren’t acting in the best interests of their charges. When it comes to your livelihood, it’s important to have an attorney, especially one who’s experienced in health law and has drafted hundreds of these kinds of contracts, representing you.
The American Medical Association recognizes the importance of having an attorney involved to protect your rights. The AMA has developed principles advising physicians to retain attorneys to examine their employment contract. Going further, it would be even more prudent for a physician to retain a health law attorney. Health law attorneys understand how healthcare regulations impact the contractual offer and won’t waste time or antagonize your potential employer by asking for changes to the document that conflicts with government regulations.
A health law attorney reviews the contract to ensure the document reflects the understanding you’ve made with the other party. The attorney should be willing to point out potential pitfalls or problem areas while advising the physician on strategies to reduce potential liability. The attorney should make certain every blank in the document is filled in, and every Exhibit, Schedule, or Addendum is attached to the document before you sign it. Finally, in the unlikely event the attorney misses something or makes a mistake during the review, the attorney’s malpractice insurance should provide a remedy for the physician client. Unfortunately, with a review by a well-meaning instructor or mentor, you’re left holding the bag should either have mistakenly interpreted the terms of your contract.
When seeking an attorney for this kind of representation on the Internet, look for someone with a substantive track record of drafting and reviewing these types of contracts. Another thing you might want to consider is whether the attorney offers the contract review for a fixed fee. Fixed fee arrangements provide you with the peace of mind that the work won’t exceed your budget.
When it comes to joining a medical practice, it pays to be prudent. Hire a health law attorney to help you start out on the right foot.
Jack Caynon is principal, Caynon Health Law Consulting.