AAEM and ACEP join together to help a little guy

…also, dogs and cats living together.

Today I got an email from AAEM, and it makes me hopeful for the future of the individual doc in my specialty. Basically, a working EM doc was going to be screwed by a restrictive covenant meaning a job change equals a significant geography change.

AAEM went to bat for the doc, as did ACEP. The two of these groups working together is a very nice change, and bodes well for both academies. The end result is that the doc can change jobs without involving a moving van, which is how I think it should be.

The email is in the extended entry.

Restrictive Covenants: AAEM and Its Foundation Assists Indiana Member

In early June a member from Indiana, John Cronkhite, MD, FAAEM, contacted AAEM regarding difficulties he was having related to a restrictive covenant imposed by his former multi-hospital group. Dr. Cronkhite sought our assistance because he had read about our recent successes in acting on behalf of practicing emergency physicians. The AAEM executive committee analyzed the matter noting that a practice environment “free of restrictive covenants” is part of the AAEM mission statement and quickly agreed to provide John help. AAEM authorized John to send our e-mail message stating AAEM would participate in a legal action similar to our recent involvement in Rhode Island to the principal owner of the group. We recently established the AAEM Foundation to financially assist emergency physicians in such actions. Given that there existed favorable case precedent in Indiana related to restrictive covenants and an EM physician from 2/21/2000 (Duneland v. Brunk, 723 N.E. 2d 963), AAEM was confident that an action seeking summary judgment in this matter would likely succeed.

Dr. Cronkhite was also advised to seek assistance from ACEP as both John and the principal owner who was engaging in this behavior were ACEP members. ACEP leadership contacted this physician and through the combined pressures of the two organizations, John was freed from his restrictive covenant. The AAEM Foundation supported John by covering his legal costs related to the preparation for filing an action on the restrictive covenant. Dr. Cronkhite thanked AAEM stating that he was “deeply indebted” for our support and financial backing. This and other recent cases provide evidence that the practicing emergency physicians do not have to accept the status quo. It is also an example of the AAEM Foundation in action for the benefit of the physician at the bedside. AAEM will examine contract matters affecting our members to see if we can provide assistance. In a case like this a collaborative effort with ACEP is possible and can benefit the physician.

We appreciate your continued support both as members and for the AAEM Foundation. Donations to the AAEM Foundation can be sent directly to AAEM at 555 E. Wells Street, Suite 1100, Milwaukee, WI 53202-3823.

555 East Wells Street, Suite 1100
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3823


  1. Restrictive covenants are certainly common, and here in Kentucky have been upheld in the courts, but why a ER doc would have that in his contract seems strange and obviously has nothing to do with the traditional logic of the RC — not “competing” with the group that recruited you (ERs may compete for manpower, but don’t exactly compete with each other). We find that increasingly doctors will not sign contracts with RCs.

  2. Goat Whacker says:

    I don’t see much sense in restrictive covenants for EM docs, but the question always comes up of why did he sign he contract in the first place, and doesn’t he have some responsibility to honor it? I have signed contracts with restrictive covenants, and honored the covenant when I left. I knew what I was getting into when I signed the contract, didn’t this guy?

  3. I think a lot of docs see the contract as an impediment to getting started at work. As a group, I think most of us don’t even read our employment contracts. I had mine read by an attorney because it didn’t look like it was written by or for a human.

    To me RC’s get down to basic fairness, or the lack of it.