Q: What happens to a physician’s former patients when he is subject to a non-compete agreement in New York?
Doctors, unlike some other types of professionals, are in a unique situation in which their ability to continue working with former patients may directly affect their patients’ health and well-being. Generally, under the terms of a non-compete agreement in New York, a former employee would be restricted from continuing to have a professional relationship with his or her former clients. Since physicians are responsible for the health of their patients, however, their non-competes may be judged a little differently.
Courts often assess the reasonableness of non-competes imposed on doctors by considering whether the provision allows for some amount of continuous care. Two questions that a court might consider when determining whether a non-compete is enforceable include:
- Is the doctor able to provide postoperative care to his or her former patients?
- Is the doctor able to provide other types of limited care to his or her former patients?
If the physician is not able to provide some level of continuous care, the court is more likely to find the provision to be too restrictive. The court is seeking to protect the legitimate interest of the practice while looking out for the best interests of the public—in this case, the patients of the practice.
Whether a non-compete agreement is enforceable is a decision made based on a variety of factors and the unique facts and circumstances surrounding a particular provision. For more information, contact an experienced New York non-compete agreement attorney. Call our office today at (888) 497-3410 for a free consultation.