How to Prevent Your Medical Group From Getting Robbed of Its Staff

March 2, 2015

Ever watch those old black and white B-movie Westerns?

The bad guys would ride into town and rob the bank. “Hands up! Give us all the money!” And then off they’d ride carrying bags of cash.

What if the writers had put a different twist on how the bad guys robbed banks? Instead of grabbing all of the money and riding off with it, what if they just forced the banker out of the bank and took over the business? First Citizens Bank of Tumbleweed? No! First Bad Guys Bank of Tumbleweed? Yes!

Ha ha, someone is laughing. That’s ridiculous, they say.

Unfortunately, it’s not at all ridiculous. It happens all the time, except not at banks where it would be a crime but to medical groups, where it’s just good business.

A hospital informs the emergency medicine group that’s been providing services to it for the past 15 years pursuant to an exclusive contract that the contract won’t be renewed next August. Instead, the group’s physicians will be offered jobs with the hospital controlled medical group.

Or, a national group takes over the anesthesia contract at St. Mark’s Community Memorial Hospital and tells the local group that it will employ all of its members, well, not exactly all, those who don’t make the cut, like the local group’s executive committee members, should start looking for jobs elsewhere.

Again, what’s bank robbery in the Old West is “just business” at the hospital.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to make it easy for someone to drop a neutron bomb on your medical group, mooting your business structure and “liberating” your employees.

Groups interested in protecting their business (and note that this means both local groups as well as regional and national groups which are by their nature setting themselves up for the same danger) must assess both internal and external strategies to defeat being robbed. These includes things like covenants not to compete, the creation of fiduciary duties, placement fees, and nonsolicitation provisions.

Of course, there’s another category of protection to consider. That’s action taken over an extended period of time to reduce the chance that your group will ever be targeted for elimination.

No, the possibility can’t be completely obviated. It’s still the Wild West out there. But you can at least remove the “rob me” sticker that’s on your back.

Leave a Reply