The Impact Of A Non-compete Clause On Patient Care And Orthopaedic Surgeons In The State Of Louisiana: Afraid Of A Little Competition?

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Orthopedic Reviews


Background Non-compete clauses (NCC) are commonly required for physicians practicing in an employed model. With growing pressures driving surgeons to practice in an employed model instead of physician-led practices, the purpose of this survey was to determine the impact of NCCs on orthopaedic surgeons and their patients in Louisiana. Methods A voluntary, single-mode online survey containing 23 questions was created using the Qualtrics XM Platform (Qualtrics, Provo, UT) and distributed to 259 orthopaedic surgeons who are members of the Louisiana Orthopaedic Association. Survey questions assessed the prevalence and details of existing NCCs and perceptions of their impact on surgeons’ practice, patients, and personal life. Results 117 members responded (response rate: 45.2%), of which 91 (77.8%) finished the survey. Nearly half (44%) of respondents had an expired or active NCC in their contract. Most (84.3%) believed NCCs give employers unfair leverage during contract negotiations. NCCs have deterred or would deter 71.4% of respondents from accepting another job offer. Respondents believed NCCs negatively impact patients, including forcing patients to drive long distances to maintain continuity of care (64.4%) and forcing surgeons to abandon their patients if they seek new employment (76.7%). Many respondents reported NCCs also exert significant detrimental effects on their personal life, including mandatory relocation of their family (67.0%). Nearly all (97.8%) believed such clauses have become unreasonable over the last decade with the rise of large hospital conglomerates. Most surgeons (83.7%) believed that removal of NCCs from all orthopaedic surgeons’ contracts would improve the overall healthcare of orthopaedic patients in Louisiana. Conclusion Perceptions of NCCs were overwhelmingly negative among orthopaedic surgeons in Louisiana. Such clauses give employers an unfair advantage during contract negotiations and exert a significant detrimental impact on surgeons and their patients. While NCCs may be reasonable in the business sector and other professions, it is unclear how such clauses benefit surgeons or improve patient care and may be detrimental to both. Study Design Cross-sectional Survey.

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