Independent Contractor or Employee — What Happens with Patient Records?

By | May 2, 2014

Dentist Employment Agreement GuideWe’ve blogged before about the difference between classification as an independent contractor vs. as an employee. The difference in classifications has a number of ramifications, including taxes, decisions about how work is to be performed, and other considerations.

The ADA has a new publication — Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions that goes into detail about the distinction between the two classifications, and raises a number of issues that could require clarification, including patient records:

Upon termination of the relationship, who will retain patient records? Where will the patient records be stored and how long will they be kept in the event of malpractice litigation? Are there any provisions to access the patient records? Can the dentist make a copy of certain patient records? Generally an employee does not own patient records, where an independent contractor may develop his or her own patient pool and possess ownership rights of patients’ records unless otherwise stipulated in the agreement. If the independent contractor does not possess ownership rights of patients’ records, it is advisable that the independent contractor secure the contractual right to photocopy the records of treated patients to defend in case of a malpractice suit, peer review or dental board action.

Dentist Employment Agreements is not a substitute for a lawyer, but can help you know what questions to ask and discussions to have with your legal advisor. The publication is available from the ADA Center for Professional Success, a member-only resource, exclusively for ADA members. And while you are there, check out the other resources including Be a Great Boss, Checklist for Terminating an Employee and Using Flexible Benefit Plans in your Practice

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