Mecklenburg Medical Group sues Atrium Health to split from hospital system

Mecklenburg Medical Group sued Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health in an effort to sever ties and operate independently of the region's dominant health system, according to The Charlotte Observer.

In the lawsuit filed April 2, Mecklenburg Medical — the largest physicians practice operated by Atrium — accuses the health system of monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior. In addition, the suit further accuses Atrium of refusing to release physicians from its restrictions.  

"Though purporting to be a nonprofit institution, Atrium — with its bloated management bureaucracy — has repeatedly complained and contended that it 'loses' millions of dollars on the MMG physicians each year," the suit reads, according to The Charlotte Observer.   "In sum, Atrium is acting as the exact opposite of the nonprofit healthcare provider that it claims to be."

The medical group, which operates across North and South Carolina, hopes the lawsuit will allow physicians to break free from Atrium's employment restrictions and instead practice independently. Dale Owen, MD, a cardiologist spearheading the effort to sever ties from Atrium, told The Charlotte Observer, the medical group is seeking to operate independently so they can spend more quality time with patients and remove Atrium's overhead costs.

Mecklenburg Medical joined Atrium, formerly known as Carolinas HealthCare, in 1993. It employs 104 physicians in several specialties, including internal medicine, dermatology and sleep medicine.

Atrium declined The Charlotte Observer's initial request for comment. 

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