Panel favors AmSurg in non-compete controversy with physicians: 5 things to know

Three physicians affiliated with an AmSurg-partnered center argued in a federal antitrust lawsuit the ASC company has a monopoly over outpatient surgery centers and their non-compete agreement was overly restrictive and unenforceable, according to a report from The Bulletin.

However, an out-of-court arbitration panel disagreed and found in favor of AmSurg. The judge put the antitrust case “on hold” until the panel went through its process. Here are five key notes:

1. Two of the three physicians associated with the case signed a non-compete with AmSurg when the company purchased stake in their Bend (Ore.) Surgery Center. The non-compete barred physician owners from opening their own centers within five years of the agreement or two years after terminating the agreement — whichever came last, according to the report.

2. Less than two months after signing the non-compete, the two neurosurgeons leased property they intended to use as offices and a surgery center. The surgeons argued procedures they would perform at the new center weren’t typically performed at Bend Surgery Center.

3. The third physician in the case never signed the agreement with Bend Surgery Center, but the contract still prevented him from opening a surgery center for interventional spine procedures, according to the report.

4. The arbitration panel found the non-compete agreement extended to any services, in the ASC or physician offices, when facility fees were charged. The panel wrote, “This may somewhat limit [the surgeons’] desire to maximize their own income, but it hardly can be said to remove them from the ranks of the medical profession or otherwise threaten the public good.”

5. Bend Surgery Center had restrictive non-competes in place before AmSurg purchased ownership stake as well, according to the report, and AmSurg’s attorney disputed any claims of a “monopoly” in Central Oregon.

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