Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Ask, instead, why they would want to leave

It isn't often that I am surprised in a negative way by something relating to an Ohio pediatric hospital.  Indeed, the hospitals in that state have been at the forefront of working together to enhance quality and safety for their patients.

But this recent story in the Columbus Dispatch caught my eye. An excerpt:

Non-compete agreements built into contracts help ensure that doctors can’t join a hospital’s crosstown rival or enter private practice across the street — at least for a while.

The choice to relocate elsewhere to practice medicine is especially limited for pediatric specialists employed by Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The Dispatch reviewed a non-compete agreement that shows that Nationwide Children’s pediatric specialists risk being sued if they take a job within 100 miles of the hospital within two years of leaving it.

It turns out that other Ohio hospitals have similar, if slightly less restrictive clauses.  The rationale:

Recruiting and hiring require a significant upfront investment, Thornhill said. “It’s a classic business practice of protecting the investment.”

Well, maybe it is--although courts have sometimes tossed out such agreements if they are too wide in scope,.  As noted here:

In states where noncompetition clauses for physicians are enforceable, the provision must: 1) protect the employer’s legitimate business interest, 2) be specific in geographical scope, and 3) have a narrowly tailored durational scope. If the language in the clause is vague or does not clearly describe the exact terms of the restrictions on practice, the clause might be unenforceable or open to greater interpretation than either party anticipated.

But I have a different concern, especially for places like Nationwide, Cincinatti Children's and others that put great stock in engaging their staff in ongoing process improvement.  From the point of view of those leading a learning organization--one focused on constant improvement from within--it is far better to figure out why someone would want to leave you than to inhibit them from doing so.


Edward J Schloss MD ‏@EJSMD said...

From Twitter:

Two year, 100 mile non-complete for academic pediatricians. Ridiculous.

R said...

Non-compete clauses in Washington State are finally getting some scrutiny from r legistlature. I know of newly graduated Family Med. residents getting non-compete clauses from large hospital-clinic systems in Western Washington.

Unknown said...

Well said. I also understand that there is a concern that patients will "follow" the doctor if the distance is not too far. Again, the issue should not be focused on keeping one's own hospital house in order to keep patients there.

Paul Levy said...


I don't know how to answer your questions, sorry.

Unknown said...

A 100 mile non-compete is completely uncalled for! Nationwide Children’s should be ashamed of itself.