Hospital sues gastroenterologists attempting to exit contracts: 5 details

TriHealth, a Cincinnati-based health system, has sued to enforce a noncompete clause for 18 gastroenterologists who plan to leave the system in June, according to a Cincinnati Business Courier report.

Five details:

1. The gastroenterologists have noncompete clauses in their contracts, preventing them from practicing in the area for one year after leaving the system. But, if 75 percent of the department exits together, among other provisions, the noncompete clause is unenforceable.

2. Eighteen gastroenterologists need to leave the health system together to void the noncompete clause. Seventeen of the 18 gastroenterologists notified TriHealth in December of plans to exit their contracts on June 28. Another gastroenterologist changed his retirement date from June 30 to June 28.

3. TriHealth sued the gastroenterologists March 14 to enforce the noncompete clause. In the lawsuit, the health system contends the 18th physician's retirement date shouldn't count among the number of exiting gastroenterologists needed to avoid the noncompete.

4. TriHealth CEO Mark Clement offered to lift the gastroenterologists' contract restrictions if they promised not to build a competing ASC, but the gastroenterologists rejected his proposal, according to a memo to the board of trustees.

5. Alan Peck, MD, one of the departing gastroenterologists, said the initial 17 gastroenterologists wanted to leave TriHealth because of safety concerns. In a sworn affidavit, Dr. Peck alleged physicians received gowns labeled "not for medical use" during the pandemic and that the hospital reduced access to facilities and support staff for physicians.

Mr. Clement denied Dr. Peck's allegations in his memo to the board.


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