Can a contracted doctor take a patient list?

January 1, 2005

That was the question before a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, when a dermatologist sued two contracted doctors for taking the practice's patient list and making copies of the appointment books. The decision: Patient lists are proprietary and protected, ruled the judge.

That was the question before a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, when a dermatologist sued two contracted doctors for taking the practice's patient list and making copies of the appointment books. The decision: Patient lists are proprietary and protected, ruled the judge.

The judge sided with the dermatologist, who charged that the information the contracted doctors took was a trade secret. The contracted physicians argued that the patient list was not a trade secret because certain names on the list did not exclusively belong to the dermatologist' practice.

In the end, the judge found the contracted doctors "liable for misappropriating the patient lists of a medical practice." Damages are expected to be decided this month.