When a Contract Isn’t a Contract

This is for you young pups out there.  Buyer beware.  I have been around the block in the past 16 years.  I have worked for two different hospital organizations and have been recruited by many others.  I am absolutely amazed how much administrators want all the leverage and not even the pressing need to hire doctors in the era of physician shortages will change their stance.

My most recent communication involved a contract where at ANY time they could change the compensation parameters.   As an added benefit, the company strictly enforces a two year non-compete clause for a 25 mile radius if you leave.  So let’s summarize.   The contract can change a moment’s notice (or if the company feels they are paying you too much) and yet they hold you tight to a restrictive covenant.   So basically the contract is not a contract.  Imagine a ballplayer signing a contract.  He gets productivity bonuses, maybe, for RBIs and batting average, etc.  That is normal.  But what if his salary is cut because the team is losing and the stadium is not filling up…all because the owner is a giant douche.  That, my friends, is what we are seeing in today’s physician contracts.  We need a revolution!

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  2 comments for “When a Contract Isn’t a Contract

  1. cc
    November 28, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I’m no lawyer, but I understand that contracts represent the agreement between two parties. I frequently negotiate changes in risky clauses to reflect my understanding of the terms. It doesn’t matter if folks on the other side seek to minimize concerns by calling it standard or saying everyone else signs it as is or saying those detailed scenarios won’t happen. You have to take everything you’re signing seriously. What if every physician renegotiated those clauses individually, or worked toward best practices in contract clauses as a local professional organization.

  2. Pat
    November 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Physicians have one power left. In the face of a stupid populace and obsequious politicians, doctors no longer have any serious power of moral suasion. Physicians have no direct power to alter their work environments, or the manner in which they see patients (apart from cash-only); through redundant, and punitive CME requirements and maintenance of certifications, physicians have needlessly surrendered control over determinations of their professional competency; they have long since given up any attempt to stand up for themselves in the public eye.

    Payment will be cut, control will get tighter, society will scream about it’s “rights”, and politicians will threaten financial and criminal sanctions, but … the only power left to physicians is the power NOT to work.

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