Legal Representation For The Dental Practice

Real World Insights from AADOM Authors - Lilson Curl

Why Should You Hire An Attorney For Your Dental Practice?

While dental practitioners don’t often find themselves in legal battles, there are many legal issues that require legal guidance and advice to protect the practice. One example is hiring an attorney for your dental practice to make legal decisions based on your state and applicable federal laws. Your attorney should be retained the entire time you own and operate a dental practice.

Start the selection process by reaching out to your peers in the dental industry or your commercial banker for legal references. You can also search the internet and select attorneys in your area; be sure to look at the online reviews. Select one or two commercial establishments with previous experience representing dental professionals and contact them with general questions to legitimize the review. If you are providing an opinion of your own, be diplomatic.

Reasons To Hire An Attorney For Your Dental Practice

Your attorney can help you select an appropriate legal name as well as advise on insurance and legal practices for your particular state. In the selection process, you should understand what the different options mean. Competent attorneys can provide a list of items to consider when setting up your dental practice. This step will save you money and time in the long run if you follow protocol in a methodical and competent legal way.

Understand The Contract You Sign With An Existing Dental Practice

Your attorney will need to review any contracts you sign to join an existing dental practice. This will provide a clear understanding of all the liabilities and risks you have assumed and your reimbursement arrangements. Just because you are working diligently doesn’t mean you will automatically get compensated for what you do.

Opening A Dental Practice From Scratch

An attorney should review all contracts signed with your commercial realtor and landlord. Have your attorney review each contract with a construction manager for buildout or supply representative for dental equipment. Understand the laws in your state and what is implied in an “Oral Contract.”

Financial Contracts

Both your attorney and CPA should review any financial agreements, as dental financing has various terms, rates, and repayment penalties. This can profoundly impact the overall health and well-being of your dental practice.

Contracted Provider With Dental Insurance

Your attorney should review all insurance contracts you sign as a contracted provider. Whether your dental practice is just opening or you are working at a new location with an existing dental practice, you may be signing insurance contracts to become a contracted provider. The insurance contracts can legally obligate you into contracts with multiple insurance providers. Attorneys for the insurance companies created the insurance contracts and are working for the best interest of their clients (not the dentists.)

Dental Website

Have your attorney review your contract with any website developers. If you stop doing business with the website company, do you own your website? The dentist, office manager, and dental consultant should review what the website designer proposes. A website states on a public platform what procedures the dentist performs and their target patient base. State what you do and stand behind what you say!

Dental Supply Contracts

Discuss your contract with a dental supply representative with your attorney in advance. Dental supplies are a continuous expense and a certain percentage of your monthly production costs. In certain months when production increases, understand when and how you are expected to pay for these increased costs. Are you responsible for paying for an increased cost of dental supplies before you have earned your monthly income?

Employment Contracts With Your Staff

Review your employment contracts for your staff. A dental practice is more likely to be sued by an employee than a patient. Know the employment laws in your state and have a thorough employment contract signed by every employee, even the temporary ones. Conduct employee reviews, and document any grievances or incidents.

Patient Applications

An attorney should review the patient application because laws do change over time. Ask your attorney how often the patient application needs to be reviewed for updates on patient rights for the state or federal laws.

Patient Consent Forms

An attorney should review all patient consent forms for the practice. Formal patient consent forms should be reviewed for any updates in patient rights on a state or federal level. Every time I personally sign a patient consent form, I review it for any new disclosures regarding patient rights.

Review All Legal Contracts Signed By A Dentist

An attorney should review all contracts signed by a dentist for the purpose of doing business. A dental practice is a business entity that is in the business of providing healthcare services to its patients. As the dentist, office manager, or dental consultant, you are responsible for protecting the health and financial well-being of the dental practice, dentist, staff, and patients you are providing a service.

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About the Author

Headshot of Lilson Curl

Lilson Curl, MAADOM, has been a dental office manager since 2003. She and her dentist husband own Advanced Premier Dental and Implant Dentistry in The Woodlands, TX. Lilson earned her degree in marketing from the University of Houston and her MBA in finance from St. Thomas University. She holds nine financial security licenses and has worked as an auditor and risk manager. Lilson was inducted as an AADOM Fellow in 2013. She and her husband have been married for over 35 years.

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