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Doctors & employment contracts: Two perspectives

Physicians, like anyone else in the job market, are generally required to sign a proposed job contract before accepting an offer for employment. This piece will delve into the two sides of the contract. First, it will discuss the provisions the physician should carefully review and second it will touch on the regulations the medical facility must navigate when drafting the agreement.

Perspective #1: The physician

A doctor that is looking to sign off on an employment contract should carefully review the terms. The contract will likely include a provision that outlines termination protocol. Restrictive covenants or a non-compete agreement may also be present. Review these along with provisions that outline day-to-day expectations and on-call coverage procedures before agreeing to the proposal.

If the proposal does not meet your needs, it may be possible to negotiate more favorable terms.

Perspective #2: The offering agent

Whether a hospital, private practice or other medical group, the party offering the contract must take steps to ensure the proposal is within the bounds of the law. Specific laws to take into considering include the Stark law which prohibits physicians from referring patients to others when a financial interest is present, the Anti-Kickback Statute which prohibits willful payment induce referrals and the False Claims Act which makes it illegal to submit false claims for payment from Medicare or Medicaid.

A contract that violates these regulations can result in a federal investigation. If this occurs, it is wise for the facility to act to protect its interests from possible criminal charges. Legal counsel can help.