Atrium Health announced Wednesday that it won't prevent physicians from its largest medical group from forming their own practice, responding to a lawsuit challenging the noncompete provisions that prevented them from doing so.
More than 90 physicians with the Mecklenburg Medical Group sued Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium, formerly Carolinas HealthCare System, in an effort to get out of employment restrictions, including what the physicians said were "overly broad" noncompete clauses that effectively prevented them from practicing in the area for a year.
In order to grant the physicians' wishes, Atrium wrote it will end their current employment agreements effective Sept. 1. To ensure continuity of care for patients, Atrium wrote that the physicians will continue practicing at its Mecklenburg Medical Group offices through August.
The health system added it will offer new employment agreements in hopes that some physicians will opt to stay with the system, noting that not all Mecklenburg physicians have signaled their intent to leave Atrium.
"Our wish is that all of these physicians will stay with Atrium Health and join the other 1,900 doctors who provide care for our patients," Atrium wrote in a statement.
In response to Atrium's announcement, Mecklenburg Multispecialty Group, the name of the practice for the physicians who are leaving Atrium, wrote that it is pleased Atrium appears to have granted the physicians' request to operate independently. It added that its attorneys will review the details in the coming days to determine next steps, including how Atrium's announcement affects the pending litigation.
"We hope to work together with Atrium Health to make this transition as smooth as possible and avoid any inconvenience to patients and staff," Mecklenburg wrote.
Atrium said it plans to retain the Mecklenburg Medical Group practice.
"We have more than 3,000 providers dedicated to our patients, and we are committed to caring for all of the patients in each of our MMG practices," Atrium wrote.