Why Non-Competes Are Bad for Virginia’s Doctors

We need more jobs, right? Need more Virginians working to support their families? And in the process of putting people back to work, don’t we generally favor competition in the marketplace? Doesn’t competition typically benefit the consumer because businesses will try to get customers, reduce rates and provide better service?

The answers to all of these questions: yes, yes, yes, and yes.

But if we favor free market competition, why do we allow non-compete contracts to interfere with another important marketplace: health care? The reality is that non-compete contracts hurt patients. 

Let’s say you found a beloved local doctor to treat a serious disease, such as cancer. During your second week of chemo, you found out that doctor was fired from the practice because he did not meet his billable hour requirement. Even worse, the doctor has a non-compete – and he can’t treat patients in a 50-mile radius of his office.

What happens when non-competes get in the way doctors and patients?

If you felt comfortable with this doctor and didn’t want anyone else to direct your treatment, then it isn’t right that a non-compete contract should interfere with your rights as a consumer or a patient. The medical practice might argue it took a risk hiring the doctor, and needs to protect its interest. But non-competes restrict the abilities of doctors, and other professionals, to compete among each other to provide the best service.

Do non-competes help the economy? No. Or consumers? No. 

So why does the law allow it? Why don’t doctors stand up and refuse to sign these contracts?

Some states are catching on to this issue and their lawmakers are passing laws making it illegal to have doctors sign these contracts. Virginia legislators should follow their lead and outlaw physician non-compete contracts in order to protect patients.

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.