Atrium Health countersues anesthesia group over contract dispute: 4 things to know

Southeast Anesthesia Consultants, a Mednax practice, has been locked in a contract dispute with Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health for the past 18 months. The anesthesia group provided services to the health system for 37 years before the system decided to switch providers, which takes effect July 1. 

SAC sued Atrium for obtaining "highly confidential, sensitive business information and trade secrets" under "false pretenses" to develop a competing services provider — Scope Anesthesia — which is slated to become Atrium's new anesthesia provider this summer, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. Now Atrium has countersued Mednax and requested a jury trial.

Here are four things to know.

1. Former Atrium consultant Thomas Wherry, MD, worked for the health system when SAC was its anesthesia provider, and went on to form Scope Anesthesia. Atrium has called the lawsuit "frivolous," according to the report, maintaining that Mednax is an "unstable and unreliable service provider preoccupied with increasing profits instead of providing healthcare of the quality and consistency that Atrium Health demands," according to the suit.

2. SAC has 90 physicians who were involved in 135,000 procedures last year in and around Charlotte; however, Atrium reported the transition to Scope Anesthesia will be seamless, and that it is "ahead of schedule" in anesthesiologist recruitment.

3. The countersuit states Atrium isn't comfortable partnering with Mednax because of the company's "workforce instability." In 2017, Mednax sued 47 anesthesiologists within its own group who were practicing at Atrium Health, according to the report.

4. Mednax did not respond to the Business Journal's requests for comment.

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