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Non-competes and health care professionals


Madeleine Baran at Minnesota Public Radio has an interesting story about the use of non-competes in the health care profession.  (Disclosure: I was interviewed for the piece).  A mother has two children with severe mental health problems.  For the past year, her 8-year-old and 10-year-old daughters had been receiving services from a mental health worker who helped the girls learn how to adjust to school and reduce behaviors like bedwetting and self-injury. After years of chaos and struggle, the mother believed that her children had finally found an adult they could trust.

But two months ago, the family’s mental health worker changed employers.  Because she had signed a non-compete agreement with the agency she was leaving, she was not allowed to continue seeing any of her clients for one year.  The agency that she left would not allow an exception for the two children.

Non-compete agreements are commonly used – and enforced - in the health care profession in Minnesota.  In some states, courts have refused to enforce them on public policy grounds; i.e. patients should be able to chose their health care provider.  That issue has not been resolved yet here in Minnesota, though. 

Perhaps medicine is really just a business like any other?

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