Tennessee exempts EP’s from proposed Physician Non-Compete Bill

Non-compete clauses are in a lot of people’s contracts, and doctors are no exception.  One side of the argument makes sense: if I’m, say, a cardiologist and have been with a group for a while, have a patient base that considers me ‘their doc’, but then I decide to go my own way and, oh by the way take all those patients with me, that could damage my cardiologist partners.

Emergency Physicians have long been subject to non-compete clauses, but for a different reason: it makes the contract holder worry less about the working docs getting the contract, as if they leave their current contract they’d be unable to practice within a geographic area typically big enough a move would be in order to keep working.  Note this has nothing to do with taking patients, it’s strictly about protecting the ED contract holder’s money rights.  It’s so important it’s second only to due process in the AAEM’s Contract Guidelines for Emergency Physicians.

From the Nashville Business Journal:

Physician noncompete bill moving through House

Nashville Business Journal – 2:07 PM CDT Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Legislation that would allow non-compete agreements for physicians is getting traction in the state House of Representatives.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Overbey, would let health care providers include contract provisions to restrict certain kinds of doctors from practicing for up to two years after leaving a provider.

The bill was amended to exclude emergency medicine specialists and radiologists.

Whether to include emergency medicine doctors in the bill was a hotly contested issue. Supporters of having emergency room doctors excluded from the bill maintained ER doctors don’t take patients with them if they move to another facility. They argued noncompetes would only fuel an ER doctor shortage.

Frankly, I’m very surprised the contract groups didn’t win that one, and good for the EP’s and Radiologists in Tennessee.


  1. Bad Shift says:

    But you could, for example, open a boutique urgent care (cash only) a couple miles from the hospital. Then you would certainly be skimming off the top, and I can see why the hospitals wouldn’t want that.

    I have a non-compete clause, but I argued to have the radius shrunk to 10 miles. There are no other hospitals within 10 miles, so I feel pretty okay about that clause being in my contract.

  2. I can see why they’d object to that from a current / active EP, but if they left the ED I don’t see what their basis for exclusion would be (as in, a non-compete clause shouldn’t be in anyone’s EP contract).

    For purposes of discussion , if an Internist in solo practice at the same hospital opened their own DocInaBox (let’s say after leaving the medical staff) they wouldn’t be subject to a non-compete clause, though the impact would be the same to the hospital. Im of the opinion the NC clause is only to insulate a contract holder from any competition.

    Anyway, NC clauses aren’t good for EM.