Oncologists sue Maryland hospital over lost privileges

Nine cancer physicians at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md., are suing the hospital after they say it fired them and refused to renew their privileges at the facility, the Capital Gazette reported Feb. 18.

The oncologists, who filed the lawsuit in January, were employed at Anne Arundel Physician Group, which is owned by the hospital's parent company, Luminis Health.

On April 6, 2020, they presented a proposal to hospital leaders, to leave Anne Arundel Medical Center to join Maryland Hematology Oncology, the state's largest independent medical oncology and hematology group. They said they saw the move as a way to escape "inadequate support of its cancer program," and alleviate financial concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while still keeping hospital privileges that allow them to perform medical services at Anne Arundel Medical Center, according to the Capital Gazette

After presenting their proposal to the hospital, the oncologists said they received a letter on April 23, saying their employment at Anne Arundel Physician Group was terminated, and that managers refused to renew their hospital privileges because they viewed the physicians as competition. 

According to the lawsuit, the proposal to join Maryland Hematology Oncology was viewed as a resignation by the hospital. 

The hospital contends the physicians were no longer eligible for privileges because the hospital entered an exclusive contract for oncology services with seven new oncologists.

Tim Adelman, general counsel/chief legal counsel for Luminis Health told Becker's Hospital Review: "Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center is proud of its award-winning cancer program, which has successfully served this community for nearly 40 years. We are pleased with the expertise of our seven new oncologists, as well as the continuity of care we have ensured for our patients as part of our nonprofit mission. This dispute started after nine oncologists resigned their employment to join a for-profit organization. They were not terminated and rejected our repeated efforts to retain them."

In addition to the lawsuit, the oncologists filed an arbitration claim to get out of their noncompete and nonsolicitation clauses with Anne Arundel Medical Center, according to the Capital Gazette

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