Locum Agreements for Dentists | Contract for temporary replacement (part 2)
Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. If you need legal advice, contact me (David Mayzel) or Michael Carabash.
In this blog I will continue my discussion on locum agreements which dentists should have in place in the event a dentist is unable to physically be at their dental practice. In my last blog post I briefly reveiwed why every Ontario dentist needs a locum agreement.
Advantages of a locum agreement
The main advantage of having a locum agreement in place prior to a dentist finding him or herself away from their dental practice is good planning and practice management (which is the business side of dentistry). Specifically, the dentist has had the foresight to plan for an eventuality where they can not attend their practice for a period of time but their practice can continue, through the provision of dental services by the locum dentist, to serve the practice’s patients and maintain the practice’s operations, which, in addition to dental services to patients, maintains billings which are required to pay rent, wages, suppliers, and of course, the dentist. It would be a shame if a dentist, who has spent years growing a dental practice (or maintaining a dental practice they purchased), could not serve his/her patients resulting in those patients seeking out other dentists to attend to their dental needs. Although it is widely accepted that dental patients are some of the most loyal ‘clients’, it is hard to maintain that loyalty when there is no dentist or dental practice to be loyal to. Once a patient has left the practice in favour of another dentist it can be very difficult to have that patient return.
Further to the issue of loyalty is the goodwill that the dentist and his/her practice has developed with the patients and/or the community the practice works within. What a lot of medical professionals forget (or don’t know), but the business lawyers and accountants know, is that there is great value in the goodwill that a dental practice has developed and accrued. Although a dentist may not see a tangible dollar amount attached to goodwill in their daily practice, when the time comes to sell the dental practice the dental practice’s goodwill does add significant dollars to the sale price of a dental practice. Having a locum dentist in place to provide dental services while the owner dentist is away allows for the continuity of the practice and the maintenance and preservation of the dentist’s and dental practice’s goodwill.
Another advantage of a planned locum agreement is the ability to negotiate mutually agreeable terms in advance (as opposed to when the dentist may be in a desperate and vulnerable negotiating position). As with any contractual relationship, a properly thought out contact, drafted with care and not in a rush, can serve to reduce or eliminate risk and provide for foreseeable eventualities should there be an unfortunate breakdown in the relationship between the owner dentist and the locum dentist.
Standard Terms for a Locum Agreement
In general terms a locum agreement is essentially a contract for services. Given the nature of the agreement, certain familiar terms and conditions will appear in all locum agreements. These terms include, in no particular order: nature of the relationship, who appoints the locum dentist, remuneration for the locum dentist, responsibilities of the locum dentist (including management of the dental office and staff supervision), confidentiality, non-solicitation, ownership of dental records and termination of the locum agreement.