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Healthcare: Physician Contracts

The best time to consult with an attorney about a physician contract is before they have agreed to anything whatsoever in writing.  A physician is making a long-term commitment with their decision that not only affects themselves, but also their family. 

Considering this is often a long-term legal obligation, it makes sense that a physician would rely upon an attorney experienced in physician contracts to review the agreement and assist in drafting or negotiating any needed changes.   That attorney will also help clarify language and explain limitations that may be in the contract.  Although many consider compensation first, there are many other factors that determine whether the physician will truly be happy or not in their new job.

These common mistakes can often occur:

     Not consulting legal counsel or waiting too long to do so

     Not taking the time to research the employer

     Relying on verbal promises, not the written contract

     Disregarding vague contract language

     Discounting covenants not to compete

     Ignoring malpractice insurance requirements

     Dismissing specific terms and conditions listed for employment

     Accepting one-sided termination clauses

     Not understanding compensation and bonus details

It is the written contract that controls the employment of a physician and an attorney experienced in physician contracts will recognize red flags.  The contract provisions and language used controls their obligations, responsibilities, and rights in their new job.  It also details their employer’s obligations and responsibilities. 

A couple of easy rules that physicians should follow when it comes to contracts are: review any proposed contract carefully so you know what you are getting into, consult an experienced attorney to catch what you may have missed and make sure all the details you were expecting are in writing and language is clear.