Former Duke University Radiologist Danielle Seaman, MD, has filed a federal anti-trust claim that Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) agreed to not hire medical staff from each other’s clinical institution.
UNC and Duke administrators deny that there was ever a secret agreement to not poach doctors from one another. However, in 2015, after three years of pursuing a position in UNC’s cardiothoracic imaging division, she was denied on the basis of the hiring pact.
“I agree that you would be a great fit for our cardiothoracic imaging division, “said Paul Molina, MD, UNC’s executive vice chairman of radiology and division chief of cardiothoracic imaging in an email to Seaman. “Unfortunately, I just received confirmation today from the Dean's office that lateral moves of faculty between Duke and UNC are not permitted. There is reasoning for this 'guideline' which was agreed upon between the deans of UNC and Duke a few years back. I hope you understand."
Molina added that the agreement was in place to curb competition and costs after a negative experience in which Duke attempted to recruit UNC medical staff.
According to Seaman’s attorney, Dean Harvey, the agreement was initiated in 2004 or in the 1990s. A statistical assessment showed that the arrangement could have reduced 8 percent of Duke physicians’ salaries. Back in 2015, Harvey’s firm accused Google, Intel, Adobe, and Apple of refusing to hire each other’s technical experts. The case resulted in a $415 million settlement that was distributed to 64,000 class members.
If the case becomes a class action, 2,000 Duke medical faculty could be affected.