A high-pro­file law­suit against Atrium Health comes to an end

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Local - BY DEON ROBERTS der­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

A group of doc­tors who took the un­usual step of su­ing Atrium Health to en­able them to break away from the Char­lot­te­based hos­pi­tal sys­tem dropped their case Fri­day.

In April, about 90 physi­cians in Atrium’s Meck­len­burg Med­i­cal Group prac­tice sued to get out of Atrium non-com­pete re­stric­tions so they could prac­tice in­de­pen­dently. Fri­day’s ac­tion for­mally ended the lit­i­ga­tion in the wake of Atrium an­nounc­ing in April that it would end em­ploy­ment agree­ments with the physi­cians on Sept. 1.

A spokesman for the doc­tors could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

A state­ment is­sued by Atrium said the sys­tem has been work­ing for the past sev­eral months with the doc­tors form­ing the stand-alone prac­tice, which will be called Tryon Med­i­cal Part­ners.

The state­ment said let­ters will be sent to pa­tients “to pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion they need to make de­ci­sions about their med­i­cal care fol­low­ing this tran­si­tion.”

The doc­tors have said they will sep­a­rate from Atrium on Aug. 31 and be­gin serv­ing pa­tients Sept 4.

The split is a rar­ity in Char­lotte and else­where, as the trend na­tion­ally has been for hos­pi­tals and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to gob­ble up in­de­pen­dent prac­tices.

Atrium ac­quired Meck­len­burg Med­i­cal Group, one of its best-known prac­tices, in 1993. The group’s spe­cial­ties in­clude car­di­ol­ogy, der­ma­tol­ogy, pul­monology and sleep medicine.

In their suit, the doc­tors ac­cused Atrium of monop- olis­tic and anti-com­pet­i­tive be­hav­ior, in­clud­ing or­der­ing doc­tors in most in­stances to re­fer pa­tients need­ing fur­ther care to Atrium-owned or man­aged fa­cil­i­ties.

Atrium has said it re­mains an at­trac­tive em­ployer that con­tin­ues to hire tal­ented work­ers, and it is not aware of any other doc­tors groups with plans to leave. It has also said its physi­cian turnover rate is be­low na­tional fig­ures.

JOHN SIM­MONS jsim­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

A group of doc­tors who sued this year to break away from Atrium dropped their case Fri­day against the Char­lotte-based hos­pi­tal sys­tem.

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