The Unseen Danger for Utah’s Small Healthcare Practices – And It’s Not Malpractice


In Utah’s vibrant healthcare industry, small practices face an increasing risk – one that often falls under the radar. The danger comes from risk is employee-related litigation. This threat has surpassed even malpractice in potential consequences for practices and is growing as the healthcare environment evolves.

Recent studies show that small businesses in the US have a significant 11.7% chance of an employee-related lawsuit or penalty every year. Because of industry-specific requirements, risks to small healthcare practices in Utah are even more alarming.

Why Employee-Related Litigation is a Rising Threat

It’s no secret that society has become increasingly litigious. Today, workplaces are often at the center of legal battles. In 2022, businesses paid over $513.7 million relating to EEOC enforcement activities alone. Employees, more than ever, are aware of their rights and not hesitant to take legal action.

And here’s the kicker. Small businesses, particularly small healthcare practices, almost always underestimate the risk of employee-related lawsuits. While focused on their core services, these practices may lack the resources or time to stay current on labor laws. Unfortunately, this oversight makes them easy targets for legal actions.

Small Healthcare Practices – The New Gold Mine for Lawyers

Regrettably, some legal professionals view small healthcare practices as low-hanging fruit for litigation. These attorneys can aggressively pursue employment-related lawsuits, seeking settlements or large awards even if the business did nothing wrong. For them, it’s just another opportunity for money. For Utah healthcare practices, it’s an incredibly dangerous financial threat.

In 2020, the average cost of an employment lawsuit for companies without a compliant employee handbook was $160,000 – a sum that could be devastating for many small practices. While we don’t have reliable numbers for more recent years, costs have certainly gone up.

Proactive Measures Can Save Your Practice

Despite these alarming trends, it’s not all doom and gloom. With the right proactive measures, you can significantly mitigate these risks and protect your practice from potential employee-related lawsuits.

You may be tempted to focus on any one of myriad ways to reduce employee-related risks. However, the smartest first step is ensuring you have an employee handbook that is up to date and compliant with both federal and Utah state laws and is personalized to your industry and company-specific needs. 

But, your employee handbook is more than just a mundane stack of policies – it’s an essential tool to protect your practice from the modern surge of employee-related lawsuits. Afterall, a significant portion of these cases stem from a lack of clarity in company policies or from non-compliant handbooks.

Beware of ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Solutions

Here’s where many otherwise smart Utah small practices unknowingly falter. Its tempting to use an online, one-size-fits-all template for your employee handbook, which is understandable given their apparent convenience. However, such templates often overlook the unique nuances and legal requirements of small healthcare practices in Utah.

Afterall, the HR laws and regulations for your healthcare practice are different from those for a tech startup, a construction company, or a retail store. A generic handbook simply won’t cover these unique regulations. This leaves your business exposed to easily avoidable risks.

Stay Proactive, Stay Informed

In addition, employment laws are not static – they are constantly changing. Each legislative session brings thousands of new laws that potentially impact your employee policies. 

So, what happens if you miss a change? As millions of small businesses have learned, it can cost you big time. Ensuring that your handbook stays up-to-day with the most recent laws – both federal and specific to Utah – is not just smart; it’s crucial.

Don’t Face This Threat Alone

Juggling the demands of a gorwing healthcare practice and staying on top of ever-changing HR laws can be overwhelming. That’s why for most small healthcare practices it’s wise to seek expert help. 

Finding an expert who understands the unique circumstances of a healthcare practice and can help you navigate the complexities of HR laws can be invaluable. It can give you peace of mind while freeing you up to focus on your most important tasks: serving your patients and growing your practice.

Remember, the key is to stay proactive and informed – the future of your practice depends on it!

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