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Reviewing Your Current Associate Agreement,

by Dr. Tom Snyder

For those readers who have an associate, I hope you have a contract which includes the following sections. If you are planning on hiring your first associate this year, make sure these areas are addressed in your Employment Agreement.

Restrictive Covenant 
In those states allowing a restrictive covenant, the covenant must be considered to be “reasonable” in geographic limitation. For example, a restrictive covenant for a general dentist in a major metropolitan area that extends 15 to 20 miles would probably not be enforceable. Being reasonable as well as realistic in establishing a mileage limitation for a covenant should be your goal, as it may increase the chances of enforceability, should a violation occur. Specialists typically have greater latitude in the mileage limitation due to the relatively lower number of specialists versus general practitioners.

Another part of the covenant is its duration. Typically, covenants for former associates should last one to two years. Any timeframe beyond that range may be considered excessive. This timeframe usually pertains to specialists as well.

Patient Solicitation
Patient solicitation is always a difficult violation to track. If patients are directly solicited by a departing associate, they will often be reluctant to contact your office to request transferring their records. Oftentimes, practitioners learn about a patient who has been solicited by a former associate when that patient does not respond to multiple recare notices or fails to show for a future appointment. Determining the economic loss of a solicited patient is also...

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