As we have written before, non-compete clauses are used everywhere in employment contracts…from television personalities, to sales, to gourmet chefs, and even doctors! Not all of these restrictions on the right to earn a living are legal and enforceable.
What does the American Medical Association (AMA) have to say about non-compete clauses in physician employment agreements? The AMA policy says “covenants not to compete restrict competition, disrupt continuity of care and potentially deprive the public of medical services.” The AMA says non-compete agreements are unethical if excessive in scope. Bravo! The AMA should take a hard stand against onerous non-compete agreements. Such agreements work a terrible disservice to the public by limiting the availability of doctors and preventing competition which helps keep the cost of healthcare from skyrocketing!
Doctors should think long and hard before signing a non-compete agreement. If possible, the doctor being asked to sign the agreement should limit the restrictive language such that they can earn a living in a desirable geographical area if his/her employment turns out to be a short term situation.