A healthcare attorney is an attorney who can assist healthcare facilities such as hospitals or healthcare professionals such as a physician or a nurse in contractual matters. Entities often offer service contracts to healthcare professionals to secure their commitment to serving the organization. Receiving a contract to review can be an exciting opportunity for healthcare professionals. The real question is whether signing the contract is in the best interest of the professional. In this article, you’ll learn a healthcare attorney’s best tips for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are offered contracts.
Standardized Contracts Aren’t the Norm for Healthcare Providers
Standardized contracts are relied upon in many industries for good reason. They’re cost-effective and can often make closing business deals faster. A standardized contract generally isn’t created for the purposes of negotiation.
An agreement offered to a physician, a nurse, or another healthcare professional may have some standard clauses within it, but it is a contract for services or an employment contract. They are drafted to offer a specific position to a specific person. A healthcare attorney can assist healthcare professionals by reviewing the contract and explaining the obligations and benefits included. This enables healthcare professionals to make an educated decision about whether they should accept the contract.
Negotiation Is Key to a Better Experience
Since the contract offered isn’t standardized, negotiation is possible. In fact, negotiation of the terms is one of the keys to ensuring that a healthcare professional has a better experience. Whether negotiation of every term is possible or likely to succeed relies on factors to numerous to examine in this article. With that being said, healthcare professionals should review the contract and ask for what they want. Any amendments that are agreed upon should be memorialized in writing. This could be done either be rewriting the entire contract or by creating a document of amendments that is attached to the contract.
Some common terms to negotiation may include:
- Continuing with other professional interests. Depending on the contract offered, healthcare professionals may lose their ability to continue to participate in or explore other professional interests. For example, they may no longer be allowed to work for another healthcare facility during their off-duty time. They may no longer be allowed to participate in lecturing.
- The ability to travel. Larger healthcare organizations may have facilities in several places. If you enjoy traveling or have specific interests, you may be able to negotiate that you’re able to work at other locations. For example, if you enjoy warm weather and live in a state that has traditional winter weather, you may be able to spend part or all of your winter working for the organization in warmer locations during the winter.
- Volunteering time within community organizations. If helping the less fortunate is important to you, you may be able to negotiate whether you’re able to spend some of your professional time volunteering within the community. Many organizations appreciate this since it helps create goodwill for their organization while also getting involved in making a difference.
Read the Contract Carefully to Understand What It Contains
We understand how it can be easy to believe that any contract offered to you would be written in a way that is mutually beneficial for you as a healthcare professional and the healthcare organization. It’s also nice to think that when a representative of a healthcare organization makes a promise to add something to the contract that it will be there. Yet, that’s not always the case. It is crucial that healthcare providers read the contract before signing it so that they understand the terms. It is also the best way to determine if your requests were included into the contract. Remember that this contract will govern your working relationship with the healthcare organization.
Watch for Blank Spaces
If the contract provided to you has blank spaces, do not sign it until those spaces are filled. Signing it with blank spaces creates the unfortunate possibility that those spaces could then be filled in thus making it appear as if you are contractually obligated to fulfill certain terms that weren’t in place before you signed the contract.
If you notice blank spaces, have a conversation with the facility’s representative. Ask for the contract to be completed. Then, ask for a new copy of the completed document for review. To ensure that you are protected, contact a healthcare attorney to review the agreement on your behalf. While accidents happen that may cause the occasional blank spot, it’s important to know what you’re signing and whether it really is within your best interest.
Review the Conditions Under Which the Contract May Be Terminated
Is there a time period where the healthcare organization can terminate you without cause? If it does, then you do not have an annual contract. You have a contract that is the length time documented in the clause. This may be 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or 180 days.
For cause termination clauses explain the reasons you may be terminated. However, it should also include one or more cures for the cause(s) of termination. With a cure provision, the healthcare organization must provide you with a certain amount of time to correct the issue before they terminate the contractual relationship.
The Healthcare Facility Should Not Give You Advice about Whether to Sign
We do not mean to imply that healthcare facilities only create one-sided contracts. Most facilities do their best to create contracts that are fair to the parties involved. However, just like any other sort of contract offered, it is important that you have the contract reviewed so that you can get advice about what is in your best interest. The healthcare facility knows what is in their contract and exactly how it works. If they give you any advice at all, it should be for you to take the time to have it reviewed by someone who is not a party to the contract.
If you’re offered a contract as a healthcare professional, the Larsen Law Offices, LLC has more than 30 years of experience as a contracts attorney. To discover whether the contract you’re offered is fair or to get help negotiating with the facility offering it, call Larsen Law now at 303-520-6030.