The patients of a nurse practitioner have been caught in the middle of a lawsuit between the provider and her former employer, a pharmacy.

Nurse practitioner (NP) Denise Pollard began working for Kohll’s Pharmacy and Homecare, in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2011. Her specialties were hormone replacement therapy and Botox injections. When Pollard was hired, she was asked to sign an employment contract which contained a non-compete agreement, something she hadn’t seen before.

Nevertheless, she signed the contract and began seeing patients at Kohll’s, including some of her previous patients who had followed her to the pharmacy. According to Pollard, she was seeing over 400 hormone patients at Kohll’s. When Pollard was fired from the job at Kohll’s three years later, she decided to start her own business.

It was when Pollard launched her business that the problems began. She was notified that Kohll’s was taking her to court based on breach of the non-compete agreement. The judge in the case issued an injunction against Pollard, prohibiting her from soliciting, contacting, or providing services to patients she had treated or had personal contact with at Kohll’s.

The next day, the pharmacy sent a letter to Pollard’s former patients of the pharmacy informing them of the judge’s order, and that Pollard was not allowed to treat them. The letter went on to offer those patients a 25% discount to stay with Kohll’s.

Nebraska has no law addressing patient’s rights in a non-compete situation such as this. Pollard argued that patients should be allowed to see any clinician they want, otherwise it is the patients who are being harmed by non-compete agreements. Only two states have ruled on this issue thus far: New Jersey and Massachusetts – one ruled in favor of allow patients to choose, one ruled against.

In the meantime, Pollard is prevented from treating former Kohll’s patients for 18 months or she will be held in contempt of court.   

Ann Latner, JD, a former criminal defense attorney, is a freelance medical writer in Port Washington, N.Y. 

References

  1. Maddox M. (2012, March 12). “Patients impacted by pharmacy court battle.” WOWT.com. Retrieved from http://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/Patients-Impacted-By-Pharmacy-Court-Battle-296155451.html