The American Medical Association’s recent “Making the Rounds” podcast focused on restrictive covenants and termination clauses with a senior attorney for the organization. This podcast was the fourth installment of a six-part series that explores physician employment contract negotiations. These provisions apply to post-employment, and limit where and how long doctors can practice once the contract ends.
Certain offices may be part of larger health systems with multiple office locations. This could prohibit a physician from practicing in a large geographic area after the contract ends. Noncompete clauses, which are related to restrictive covenants, can impose limits on a physician while they are still employed. The clauses can specify that the doctor cannot work for anyone else while still employed to ensure loyalty.
Initial Terms and Termination
Employment agreements spell out initial terms or contract lengths. Some have evergreen clauses, which renew after an initial term ends. However, there are other ways that employment can end, such as without-cause termination. This involves employers ending employment without reason, and restrictive covenants may go into effect. A contract should specify exact terms, giving the physician adequate time to make other arrangements. Physicians should also ensure that there is a clause allowing them to terminate their employment without cause.
Contracts may have provisions for immediate or for-cause termination. This gives employers the right to terminate employment for specific reasons, such as using illegal substances or malpractice. In some cases, this can lead to exclusion from government programs, such as Medicare or a loss of license.
Another reason a physician may face for-cause termination is if the employer believes the contract is not being followed. If it reads that that the physician must attend weekly meetings, but they do not, they may not be compliant. They may be given time to correct this or be asked to leave the company. No matter the issue, it should be addressed during contract negotiations. A provision requiring the employer to give the physician notice to comply is important as physicians need their own for-cause termination rights spelled out. If a physician is not being paid on time, for example, they could give the company a specified amount of time to comply, otherwise they may terminate the contract.
During the podcast, topics involving patient records and the issue of contacting patients after a physician leaves a medical organization were visited, as well as other issues that physicians should be aware of when negotiating an employment contract.
Philadelphia Physician Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Physicians Negotiate Employment Contracts
If you are a physician with employment contract concerns, the Philadelphia physician lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. can review your physician employment contract and ensure it meets your best interests. For a free case review, call us at 215-569-1999 or complete our online form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.