Norton Healthcare's Hiring of University of Louisville Neurosurgeons Could Lead to Legal Action

Louisville, Ky.-based Norton Healthcare's hiring of eight University of Louisville neurosurgeons could result in legal action, according to a report in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In a letter dated March 31, the University of Louisville said that Norton "improperly interfered with an existing contractual relationship" by hiring the neurosurgeons, who made up the entirety of the university's neurosurgery department, in January. In addition, the institution claimed that the neurosurgeons used privileged information to aid Norton at the expense of the university.

As a result, the neurosurgeons lost their faculty status on March 1, the day their employment with Norton Neuroscience Institute began, putting the status of the university's neurosurgery residency program and status as a Level I trauma center into question.

The Norton doctors have agreed to continue to treat patients at the University of Louisville through May 12, while the university tries to find new faculty, according to a related report in the Courier-Journal. Reviewers from a national accreditation council will visit the institution in May will make a final decision by July. If accreditation and Level I status are lost, patients will have to be flown to other cities in order to receive care.

Both Norton and the University of Louisville have retained outside lawyers. The eight neurosurgeons have filed grievances with the institution asking to be reinstated as faculty. According to the report, the neurosurgeons argue that their terminations violated tenure and contract rights and that they are entitled to a hearing on the matter. Legal action could continue if the surgeons are not reinstated.

The controversy over Norton's hiring of the University of Louisville faculty focuses on the renewed interest of hospitals hiring specialties rather than relying on independent staff.

Read the Courier-Journal's report on the possible Norton neurosurgeon legal action.
Read the Courier-Journal's report on the Norton neurosurgeon hiring controversy.

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