Yes even your doctor has a non-compete – should you care?

This morning I stumbled across an article about NC doctors who are currently spending more time in court than their patients would like.

Here is the scenario. A doctor is hired by a practice to serve patients but asked to sign a contract that when she leaves the practice, she won’t provide same or similar services within a 20 or 30 mile radius. Doctor leaves her employer but wants to stay in the area so she either:

a. Opens a practice just beyond the geographic scope cited in the contract;

b. Opens a practice wherever and hope she doesn’t get sued;

c. Tries to buy herself out of the contract so she can serve patients wherever;

d. Forgot she had a non-compete in the first place and takes another job forgetting her contractual obligations.

We get calls from all of the above scenarios. Doctors who are trying to honor their contracts, and others who would rather fight it out in court. Many states understanding the special place that quality healthcare providers hold in our communities, are carving out exceptions to non-compete for health care practitioners. For example, in some states, it may be legal for your plumber to have a non-compete but not your doctor.

Neither Virginia nor North Carolina have separate rules for doctors. They are held accountable for breaching contracts just like everyone else. The only difference is the public suffers when they don’t have a choice of doctors in ways we don’t suffer if we have to use a different pest control guy.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.