AMA publishes hospital employment guide
■ With hospitals hiring more physicians, the Association wants to ensure that contracts governing these arrangements are understood.
By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted May 19, 2011
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The American Medical Association has a new manual to help physicians navigate employment agreements with hospitals.
"It is critical for physicians to understand what is in their employment contracts," said Jay Gregory, MD, a general surgeon and chair of the governing council of the AMA Organized Medical Staff Section. "They've got to know due process. They've got to know what's expected of them."
The Annotated Model Physician-Hospital Employment Agreement, developed by the OMSS and the AMA's general counsel, is available at no charge to members. The guide, which was published at the end of April, is available online (link).
Nonmembers can purchase the manual through the AMA bookstore.
The AMA has long had sample contracts for physicians working with group practices. The Association published the guide to physician-hospital employment contracts because of the prevalence of these arrangements. Sixty-five percent of established physicians and 49% of those finishing residencies landed jobs in hospital-based practices, according to 2009 data released June 3, 2010, by the Medical Group Management Assn.
Such arrangements can be complicated. Some physicians have multiple contracts for different jobs at the same hospital that may not be in line with one another. Such documents may conflict with medical staff agreements.
"These things get cumbersome," Dr. Gregory said. "Doctors have got to protect themselves. Hopefully, this manual will provide physicians with a better understanding of their legal rights, and they will be able to go into these situations with their eyes open."
The manual covers scope of duties, compensation, expense reimbursement and employer-paid benefits, as well as loyalty and confidentiality covenants. The AMA recommends that the guide be used in conjunction with an attorney's advice.
"Once a physician reads and understands the annotated manual, he or she must seek out their own personal lawyer to review the final contract and to enter into negotiations," Dr. Gregory said.