Dental Associate Agreements

One of the most important documents for any dentist is the Dental Associate Agreement. This contract outlines the terms of employment between a dental practice and an associate dentist. Whether you’re a practice owner looking to bring on a new associate or a dentist seeking employment, you need to understand what a dental associate agreement should contain.

Here, we’ll examine the key components of these agreements and discuss how a skilled dental associate agreement lawyer can protect your interests.

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The Importance of a Well-Written Dental Associate Agreement

A dental associate agreement is a legally binding contract that defines the relationship between a dental practice and an associate dentist.

It sets forth both parties’ rights, duties, and obligations, including compensation, benefits, termination clauses, and non-compete provisions. Without a clear and comprehensive agreement in place, misunderstandings and disputes can arise, leading to costly legal battles and damaged professional relationships.

Key Components of a Dental Associate Agreement

Close-up of a female employee signing agreement documents that clearly define the job duties and responsibilities of an associate dentist.

While most dental associate agreements should include several key components. Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements:

Scope of Employment

The agreement should clearly define the associate dentist’s job duties and responsibilities. This may include the specific services they will provide, their expected hours, and any performance metrics they must meet. Get as detailed as possible to avoid disagreements or confusion later on.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation is a key aspect of any employment agreement. The contract should outline the associate dentist’s salary or hourly rate, as well as any bonuses, commissions, or profit-sharing arrangements. It should also specify when and how often the associate can expect payment.

In addition to compensation, the agreement should detail any benefits the associate is entitled to receive. This may include health insurance, retirement plans, vacation time, sick leave, and continuing education allowances. Your contract must clearly define the terms and conditions of each benefit.

Term and Termination

The agreement should specify the length of the employment relationship, whether it’s a fixed term or an open-ended arrangement. It should also outline the circumstances under which either party can terminate the agreement, such as for cause or with notice.

Include provisions for what happens upon termination, such as the associate’s obligation to complete any outstanding patient treatment, the practice’s responsibility to pay any outstanding compensation, and handling patient records and referrals.

Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Clauses

Non-compete and non-solicitation clauses protect the dental practice’s interests by restricting the associate’s ability to compete with the practice or solicit its patients and employees after the employment relationship ends.

Your lawyer can make these provisions reasonable in scope and duration so they comply with state and local laws. Many states favor employees regarding these provisions, so the language should ensure enforceability when necessary.

A skilled dentist lawyer can draft language that balances the needs of both parties. An attorney can also advise you on the enforceability of such provisions in your jurisdiction.

Malpractice Insurance

An image of a medical malpractice insurance application form on a clipboard.

Dental practices must carry malpractice insurance to protect against claims of negligence or wrongdoing. The dental associate agreement should specify the minimum coverage amounts required to obtain and maintain this coverage.

In some cases, the practice may provide malpractice insurance for the associate as part of their benefits package. In others, the associate may need to secure their own coverage. Be sure to clearly define these responsibilities in the agreement.

Intellectual Property

The agreement should address ownership of any intellectual property the associate creates during employment. This may include patient records, treatment plans, and any dentistry-related inventions or innovations.

Generally, intellectual property created within the scope of employment belongs to the dental practice. However, your agreement must clearly define these ownership rights in the agreement to avoid disputes later on.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure

Dental practices handle sensitive patient information and confidential business data. The dental associate agreement should include provisions requiring the associate to maintain the confidentiality of this information both during and after their employment.

The agreement should also prohibit the associate from disclosing any trade secrets or proprietary information of the practice. This may include patient lists, marketing strategies, and financial data.

Dispute Resolution

Despite best efforts, disputes can sometimes arise between a dental practice and an associate dentist. The dental associate agreement should include provisions for resolving these disputes, such as through mediation or arbitration.

Including a dispute resolution clause can help avoid costly and time-consuming litigation. It can also provide a more private and efficient means of resolving disagreements.

The Value of a Skilled Dentist Lawyer

Drafting a comprehensive and legally sound dental associate agreement requires a deep understanding of dental business law. A skilled dentist lawyer brings knowledge and experience to the table, ensuring that your agreement protects your interests and complies with all relevant laws and regulations.

In addition to drafting and reviewing dental associate agreements, a dentist lawyer can provide valuable guidance on various legal issues facing dental practices.

Healthcare and medicine, malpractice, and the legal system.

This may include:

  • Private equity transactions related to dental management service organizations (MSOs) and dental service organizations (DSOs)
  • Dental practice acquisitions and sales
  • Partnership agreements and buy-sell arrangements
  • Space-sharing agreements and leases
  • Corporate structuring and formation of dental LLCs and corporations
  • Employment law matters, including hiring, firing, and discrimination claims
  • Real estate transactions and zoning issues
  • Dental board defense and disciplinary actions

Contact a Qualified Dental Attorney Today

A well-written dental associate agreement is important for any dental practice or associate dentist. These contracts provide clarity and protection for both parties, setting forth the terms of the employment relationship and avoiding costly misunderstandings and disputes.

By seeking the services of a skilled dentist lawyer, you can write a comprehensive, legally sound dental associate agreement tailored to your unique needs. These legal professionals bring a deep understanding of dental business law and can provide valuable guidance on various issues facing dental practices.

Don’t leave your professional future to chance. Contact a qualified dental attorney today if you’re a dental practice owner or associate dentist needing legal guidance.

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