EMPLOYEES AND ASSOCIATES
A dentist has risk exposure if he or she has employees or associates. Although a full discussion on labor/employment law is beyond the scope of this book, the dentist should be made aware of the basics. The employer/dentist carries responsibility for his or her employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which is applied to the dentist under vicarious liability law (see the definitions in Chapter 3). It is that part of vicarious liability law that applies to the employer–employee relationships. Under respondeat superior, the employer:
1. Selects the employee to act
2. Controls employee activities
3. Benefits from employee activities.
Hence, since the employer benefits from the employee’s activities, the employer assumes the risk of the employee’s activities.
Associates may be found to be not only employees but rather independent contractors. Recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) changed the criteria regarding the associate’s status as to whether the associate would be considered an employee or an independent contractor. The new test is wider in scope to include more into the independent contractor status. The new test is an 11-part assessment divided into three categories:
1. Behavior control
2. Financial control
3. Type of relationship .
Employee/independent contractor status is covered in more detail in Chapter 19.
Referring to another healthcare practitioner or specialist also has risks attached. There is normally no liability when referring to a specialist unless:
1. The referring dentist knew or should have known the specialist is impaired or incompetent.
2. The referring dentist materially benefited from the referral.
3. The referring dentist directed or took part in the treatment provided by the specialist.
With the growth of multispecial/>