An 84 year old doctor – Dr. Anna Konopka was denied a license renewal by a New Hampshire Judge because she is unable to use a computer.
The Judge called in question Dr. Konopka’s ability to keep and maintain computerized patient records, prescribing practices as well as medical decision making. The state had challenged Dr. Konopka, adding that because of her limited ability to use the computer, she was unable to use the electronic drug monitoring program. The monitoring program is mandatory by the state and keeps a close watch at the prescribed opioids to the general public. This effort is mainly to prevent complications and deaths due to overdosages.
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Konopka’s office has little of the modern technology. She has a small waiting room and a cabinet that holds physical records of most of her patients. She does not know how to use a computer and also does not have one at her office. Her practice came under scrutiny when she treated a 7 year old patient with asthma. She had not titrated the dosage of the medications that she had prescribed and also did not add daily inhaled steroids that are routinely used in these patients. Konopka was reprimanded by the board in May but she said in her defense that the boy’s mother had not followed the instructions that Konopka had given. Since then there has been four more complaints against Konopka and her prescribing practices. The board then moved on to a disciplinary hearing on those complaints in September following which Konopka gave up her license.
Konopka had surrendered her license this October and then later asked for permission to renew it to continue her practice. Merrimack Superior Court Judge John Kissinger hover on the 15th of November denied her the license. She has since appealed to the court to reconsider their decision to not renew her license but the court is yet to get back to her. Thus at present the 20 to 25 patients that Konopka sees every week have to wait. Konopka said, “I’m not upset about anything. The legal system is a game. You move. They move. It’s full of tricks and different movements… I am fighting. Therefore as long as I am fighting, I have some hope.”
Kissinger in his judgment had said, “The Court has admiration for Dr. Konopka’s devotion to her patients… Under these circumstances of this case, however, Dr. Konopka has failed to demonstrate that the extraordinary remedy of an injunction allowing her to continue to practice medicine is appropriate. To hold otherwise would be to ignore the process established by the legislature to regulate the practice of medicine in this state.”
There are still over 4,000 patients who depend on Konopka from neighboring towns who come to her because she possesses that “personal touch” that is lacking in large hospitals and busy doctors. Long suffering patients especially those with chronic pain often come to her for support as do patients with no insurance who cannot afford costly healthcare. She takes $50 in cash from her patients she said and thus she cannot afford a nurse or a secretary and now a lawyer. Quite a few of her loyal patients have written a petition to Judge Kissinger to reconsider the court’s decision.