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Losing our Patience and Patients

Dear Office-Politics,

I am a physician in a group with 2 other doctors and 6 employees. The 3 physicians share equal costs. One physician, Lulu, is habitually late – late with her patient appointments, late with making her contributions for paying the bills. We’ve told her that her tardiness is costing us money and that it’s not fair to the rest of us. Another problem is that she makes some unilateral decisions that affects the finances, operations, or opens us up to certain liabilities. For example:

1. Dr. Lulu was scheduled to be on call. MB, the other doctor and myself, had planned our vacation with our families a year in advance. Suddenly she says she wants to go on vacation with a friend who was adopting a baby in China. We told her it’s not a good idea for her to go but she already booked her tickets. So for 4 days, no one covered our patients or the hospital for our group. This goes against hospital policy and can be construed as malpractice.

2. Dr. Lulu over-utilizes the staff with certain tasks that she should be doing herself (as MB and I do ourselves), so when 1 staff quit and our manager was sick Dr. Lulu was freaking out that “nothing was getting done” and she hired a temp without consulting either MB or me.

3. Dr. Lulu told our manager to not make any deposits into her personal account in December to “lower her taxes” so she was really late in making contributions to pay for office bills and some checks bounced. I’ve asked several accountants if what Dr. Lulu did was acceptable. They’ve all said no, but she won’t listen to reason.

4. Dr. Lulu suggested to me that we buy from her husband a modular desk and 2 file cabinets, in exchange we’d buy him a desk (unknown cost) and give him two file cabinets (which cost us $600). However, we only needed 1 file cabinet and half the desk. Dr. Lulu’s own husband said that if we weren’t going to use the whole set then we shouldn’t take it and go buy our own desk. The offer was never confirmed and the logistics of moving them was still to be discussed. MB didn’t even know about it. A couple days later, the desk was installed, the file cabinet delivered, and our other 2 file cabinets were taken. Now, she wants us to pay her $1750 for the whole set even though we don’t have the whole set. She didn’t subtract the cost of the 2 file cabinets they took. Dr. Lulu said we don’t need to buy her husband a desk as they had one in the garage that he could use. We’ve asked for a copy of the receipt showing what her husband paid for the desk and file cabinets so we could work out a payment but she says it was stolen.

5. Dr. Lulu takes home Christmas gifts that were given to the staff or were addressed to everyone in the office without asking.

MB and I can’t get rid of Dr. Lulu as she is the original doctor who recruited us into the office and the hospital. Also, the office lease is under her name.

Need Rx

arnie herz

Dear Need Rx,

You may have more legal leverage then you think. Perhaps you can sue her for breaching her fiduciary duty and her professional duties. Or, if you don’t want to sue her, you can threaten suit if she does not start acting like a team player. You really need to consult a lawyer in your area who deals with partnership/business issues. Where are you located? I may be able to recommend someone.Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.


Arnie Herz

Arnie Herz, is a lawyer, mediator, speaker, author and consultant nationally recognized for his practical and inspired approach to conflict resolution and client counseling. Visit his blog at LegalSanity.com

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