It doesn’t seem to me that public policy (or the law) would allow non-compete clauses to prevent emergency room physicians from practicing medicine where ever they wanted and were needed. So, I was surprised to learn that this very problem exists in Virginia.
Emergency Physicians of Tidewater (EPT) and TeamHealth, a national physician staffing company, are fighting these issues in the Virginia Beach, Suffolk, and Hampton Roads areas of Virginia. EPT staffs five hospitals and a free-standing emergency department in South Hampton Roads for Sentara Healthcare, the region’s largest health care provider. In addition to the hospitals, EPT members essentially founded the emergency medicine department at Eastern Virginia Medical School. The larger TeamHealth is owned by a global private equity fund. Both companies have non-compete provisions in their employment agreements with the individual emergency medicine physicians which prevent the doctors from working as an emergency medicine physician for a certain period of time in the same geographical area.
What happened to the goal of providing good medical care to all in need? Seems to me that this is just another example of “Corporate Medicine” where the decisions are made by business men and women whose only goal is to maximize a company’s profit. Even the emergency medicine academy is concerned about groups like EPT and TeamHealth because the practice of medicine “is not in that doctor’s hands, it’s in the hands of the corporation,” said Dr. Robert McNamara, an AAEM board and chairman of the emergency medicine department at Temple University Medical School.