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Opinion 9.02 - Restrictive Covenants

Competition among physicians is ethically justifiable when it is based on such factors as quality of services, skill, experience, conveniences offered to patients, fees, or credit terms.

Covenants-not-to-compete restrict competition, can disrupt continuity of care, and may limit access to care.

Physicians should not enter into covenants that:

(a) unreasonably restrict the right of a physician to practice medicine for a specified period of time or in a specified geographic area on termination of a contractual relationship; and 

(b) do not make reasonable accommodation for patients’ choice of physician.

Physicians in training should not be asked to sign covenants not to compete as a condition of entry into any residency or fellowship program. (I, II, III, V, VI)

Issued November 2014 based on the report "Restrictive Covenants," adopted June 2014.