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Doctors and noncompete agreements

Whether you are a practicing doctor or operate a medical facility, you want your practice to be successful. That is why you connect with the specific facilities or physicians. However, sometimes those relationships may change, and separation is imminent.

So what are your options if a noncompete agreement is in place? No matter which side you are on, there are a few things you should be aware of in regards to the function of a noncompete agreement in the medical field.

Understanding noncompete

Florida statute 542.335 fully details the noncompete laws for the state. The intent of the statute is to protect businesses from unfair competition. In other words, the stipulations of the law work to protect the legitimate business interests of a company, which include:

  • Trade secrets
  • Business relationships
  • Clients, customers or patients
  • Confidential or valuable information
  • Specialized training

These resources help set a business apart, and having someone who had access to these resources open up the same type of business in the same area could cost the company business and future revenue. For this reason, the noncompete laws usually work in favor of the business owner, as long as the noncompete agreement is well-written.

Doctor's options

Though physician practices do commonly utilize noncompete agreements and tend to be strict in enforcing them, a doctor may still have options. A physician may have an opportunity to opt-out of the noncompete agreement with some form of payment. Sometimes, the facility provides this amount and the accompanying terms in the original agreement, otherwise, it may be negotiable. If this is not possible or the doctor does not want to pay, it may be possible to argue the terms of the noncompete agreement. One of the most common defenses is distance, if the physician is leaving the area. Depending on the wording of the agreement and the argument the doctor makes, she or he could have a solid case.

A noncompete agreement is usually solid, but there are still applicable factors that may allow for some wiggle room. Whether you are looking to end or uphold an agreement, make sure you fully understand the terms of the contract.

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