Atrium Health on physician group's lawsuit: 'To be clear, we're not reassigning patients'

Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health refuted claims made by a group of physicians seeking to break off from the health system that Atrium has been assigning patients to physicians who plan to remain with the organization, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.

A group of 92 physicians from Mecklenburg Medical Group, part of Atrium, filed a lawsuit April 2 against the health system seeking to split with the organization, claiming Atrium engaged in monopolistic and anticompetitive behavior. Atrium said the same day it would allow the physicians to leave the organization.

On April 16, the group filed a complaint against the health system with the North Carolina Medical Board, alleging the health system violated board regulations by intentionally misleading patients. A lawyer for the group told the Charlotte Business Journal Atrium's actions violate the board's practices related to physician-patient relationships, as well as its rules tied to departure and the closing of medical practices, the report states.

In a statement to Becker's Hospital Review April 18, Atrium said: "We regularly communicate with our patients and recently sent emails to patients of Mecklenburg Medical Group in an effort to keep them informed. Because patients can see multiple physicians, a small percentage of patients may receive a letter listing a physician who they do not consider their primary care provider. In the case when a patient disputes who is listed as their primary provider, we provide the appropriate information for their physician.   

"To be clear, we are not reassigning patients. We have always respected patients' right to choose their physician. For patients who choose to continue their care with a physician who leaves Atrium Health, we support their decision and help to make sure it is a seamless and coordinated transition."

Despite publicly allowing the physician group to break off, Atrium has not provided the Mecklenburg Medical Group with a "substantive response" to their lawsuit. The health system reportedly has until May 7 to respond, with a potential 30-day extension, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.

More articles on physician integration issues:
Report details Chicago physician amassed $248k+ in unauthorized expenses for piano, flights
Mecklenburg Medical Group files complaint with state medical board against Atrium Health
100 California medical school students stage 'die-in' advocating for healthcare equality

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