In addition to containing reasonable restrictions as to time, geographic scope and scope of activity to be restrained, Texas imposes additional requirements for enforceable covenants not to compete with licensed physicians.  Those additional requirements include that the covenant: 

  1. not deny the physician access to a list of his patients whom he had seen or treated within one year of termination of the contract or employment;

  2. provide access to medical records of the physician’s patients upon authorization of the patient and any copies of medical records for a reasonable fee as established by the Texas Medical Board;

  3. provide that any access to a list of patients or to patients’ medical records after termination of the contract or employment shall not require such list or records to be provided in a format different than that by which such records are maintained except by mutual consent of the parties to the contract;

  4. provide for a buy out of the covenant by the physician at a reasonable price or, at the option of either party, as determined by a mutually agreed upon arbitrator or, in the case of an inability to agree, an arbitrator of the court whose decision shall be binding on the parties; and

  5. provide that the physician will not be prohibited from providing continuing care and treatment to a specific patient or patients during the course of an acute illness even after the contract or employment has been terminated.

This legislative session, the law was amended to clarify that these additional limitations are not required to enforce a noncompetition agreement covering a physician’s business ownership interest in a licensed hospital or licensed ambulatory surgical center.  (Link here).  An ambulatory surgical center is a facility that operates primarily to provide surgical services to patients who do not require overnight hospital care.  In connection with a physician’s ownership interest in those operations, only the standard requirements for enforceability in the non-physician context apply. 

The additional physician-specific requirements for covenant not to compete enforcement appear to still apply to those licensed physicians who perform management or administrative roles within hospitals and healthcare facilities. The new law become effective September 1, 2009.

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