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The terms of dental covenants will impact your load of patients, practice setting and your day-to-day life. Attorney Robert Chelle reviews your dental contract’s content, identify the areas that could be improved and assist you in obtaining the best dental contract possible. Each provider that requests Mr. Chelle’s assistance with dental agreement analysis receives:
- Available in any state
- Flat-rate pricing, with no hidden costs
- Review of your proposed dental agreement
- Phone consultation with Attorney Robert Chelle reviewing the dentistry contract term by term
- Follow up with a review of the needed clarifications
These touchstones are even more crucial when applying their roles to the case of a dentist employed by a dental group, or other dental provider. The present day conclusion is simple: A dentist should not sign dentistry contracts in any state without having the content of the dental agreement reviewed by legal counsel. For instance, to ensure ADA compliance, associate compensation, disability insurance, student loans, malpractice, associate training, member marketing guidance, etc. Questions of interest include:
- What is the Difference Between a Dentist and an Associate Dentist?
- How Much Does a Dental Associate Make?
- Are Dentists Independent Contractors?
Dentist Contract Checklist Reviews and Legal Information
Each dentists’ contract is unique. However, nearly every dental contract for dentistry professionals should contain several essential terms regardless of what state it is in. If these essential terms are not spelled out in the dental employment agreement, disputes can arise based on disagreements between the employer and employee as to the details of the specific term.
For instance, if the DDS or DMD is expecting to work at the practice Monday through Thursday and the employer is expecting the provider to work Monday through Friday, but the specific workdays are absent from the Dentistry Agreement; who prevails? Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid conflicts during the term of your employment.
Essential Terms for Legal Review
Below is a checklist of essential terms that any dentist’s agreement should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):
- Services Offered: What are your patient care duties for the practice? Are you given time for administrative tasks?
- Patient Care Schedule: What days and hours per week are you expected to provide patient care and have contact with patients?
- Locations: Which practice or facilities will you be based at to provide care at (outpatient clinic, surgical sites, in-patient services, etc.)?
- Outside Activities: Are you permitted to pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you accept those positions?
- Call Schedule: How often are you on call (after hours office call, hospital call (if applicable)?
Dentistry Contract Benefits
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What EMR system is used? Will you receive training prior to providing care?
- Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency? Does the base compensation increase over the term of the Dental Agreement?
- Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation; how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)?
- Benefits Summary: Are standard benefits offered: health, vision, dental, life, disability, retirement, etc.?
- Paid Time Off: How much time off is offered? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance and holidays?
- Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses and how much time off is offered?
- Dues and Fees: Which business expenses are covered (licensing, DEA registration, privileging)?
- Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if the Dental Agreement is terminated prior to the expiration of the initial term?
- Signing Bonus: Is a signing bonus offered? When is it paid?
- Professional Liability Insurance: What type of professional liability insurance is offered: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
- Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary, who is responsible to pay for it when the Dental Agreement is terminated?
- Term: What is the length of the initial term? Does the Dental Agreement automatically renew after the initial term?
- For Cause Termination: What are the grounds for immediate termination for cause?
- Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the Dental Agreement without case?
- Post Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the Dental Agreement is terminated?
- Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
- Non-Solicitation: How long does it last and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
- Notice: How is notice given? Contact via email, US mail, etc.?
- Assignment: Can the Dental Agreement be assigned by the employer?
- Venue: Where will litigation and any law conflicts be heard?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If there is a conflict, will mediation or arbitration process be utilized? Who decides what attorney oversees the process? Will it be a health care attorney?
How to Get out of a Dental Contract with a Non Compete
Non compete in dental contracts were originally considered as restraints of trade, and thus were invalid on the grounds of public policy at common law; however, many restraints of trade incident to employment contracts were upheld based on the rule of reason. Thus, restrictive covenants between dentists not to compete after termination of employment are generally enforceable as long as it is reasonable.
However, there are a few states which prohibit health care provider non compete clauses. Please check your state laws for dental non compete agreements to see what the specific rules for your state are. The general test for reasonableness of non-competition agreements holds that on termination of employment, a covenant which restrains an employee from competing with his former employer is termed reasonable if:
- The restraint is not more than required for protecting the employer,
- It does not inflict any untold of hardships to the employer, and
- The restraint is not injurious to the public.
Unreasonable Non Compete Practices
For instance, in Ohio, a non-competition clause was unreasonable when it was noted that a provider’s sub-specialty was uncommon, and that it would be harsh if the restrictive covenant was enforced as the hospital where he was precluded from practicing was only one of the few institutions in the area where he could practice his specialty.
Thus, in Ohio, covenants restraining providers from competing with his employer upon termination is considered unreasonable if it inflicts untold of hardship on the professional, is injurious to the public, if the demand for the dentist’s medical expertise is important for the community people and if the dentist’s services are important for the health, care and treatment of public. However, non-competition clauses for dentists, in general, are enforceable as long as they protect some of the employer’s legitimate interests.
Company Pitfalls: Student Loans, Insurance, Lack of Resources
Dentists face much risk when they take the review of dental contracts into their own hands. Dental contract terms are highly negotiable and have a great impact not only on professional life and practice but also on lifestyle, family and the future. There are many important dental contract terms and clauses which can provide and present new complex and diverse issues for any DDS or DMD, including:
- Unfavorable call schedules
- Small Production Bonuses
- Lack of Benefits
- Not enough paid-time-off
- Not enough vacation time
- Unfair Non-Compete
- Inadequate professional liability coverage
Dentist Contract Lawyer
When dental contracts are reviewed by an experienced attorney, you will find great financial benefits which end up outweighing the cost of the contract’s review. If you are in need of legal assistance with a dental employment agreement or dentistry contract review schedule a Dentist Contract Review with Chelle Law today!