December 7, 2017

New Hampshire Physician Loses Medical License

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Small town physician loses license because she doesn’t use a computer in her practice.

Am I the only one who remembers Marcus Welby, MD? For those of you that don’t remember, he was a family practitioner on a TV show back in the 70s who knew all his patients by their first names and had an amazing bedside manner.

In my state of New Hampshire, a physician has had her medical license revoked because she was still practicing a la Marcus Welby. Dr. Anna Konopka, a beloved 83-year-old internist practicing in New London, N.H., a town of 4,000 residents, was asked by the medical board to relinquish her license as of Oct. 28, 2017.

The reason for all of this is because Dr. Konopka never invested in the computerized world in which we currently live. Dr. Konopka, who worked alone in her practice, saw 20 to 25 patients per week and charged $50 per visit.

In her office, she had two file cabinets with handwritten patient records and a landline telephone. She was therefore unable to access the state’s required online drug monitoring program, which mandated that prescribers tell state authorities what quantities of opioids they issue.  Therefore, these issues, as told by the state authorities, are allegedly harming Dr. Konopka’s ability to practice medicine and thereby abide by state law.

This initially started in May 2014, when allegations were made about Dr. Konopka’s improper treatment of a 7-year-old child with asthma, whereby she was reprimanded and asked to participate in continuing medical education in the areas of pediatric asthma, primary care pharmacology, and pediatric cardiology. Subsequently, there were additional allegations, and in October 2017, again, Dr. Konopka was asked to voluntary surrender her license (read more at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4175945-20170920-Konopka-A.html).

Although Dr. Konopka filed a case to have her license reinstated, this was dismissed on Nov. 15, 2017. Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger dismissed the case, citing issues pertaining to recordkeeping, prescribing practices, and medical decision-making as reasons for dismissal.

This case stirred many feelings among those who recall simpler times and a simpler lifestyle. Marcus Welby, MD didn’t have an electronic medical record, and he didn’t have to abide by all of the rules and regulations that current practicing physicians are faced with in 2017. 

Were he practicing today, would he be faced with the same predicament as Dr. Anna Konopka?

Denise Nash, MD, CCS, CIM

Denise Nash, MD has more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry. In her last position, she served as senior vice president of compliance and education for MiraMed Global Services, and as such she handled all compliance and education needs, including working with external clients. Dr. Nash has worked for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in hospital auditing and has expertise in negotiation and implementation of risk contracting for managed care plans. She has also worked with individuals as well as physician groups on utilization and Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) management to improve financial performance for risk-based contracts and value-based purchasing programs. Dr. Nash has past experience with episode-of-care data, hierarchical condition categories (HCCs), and patient management in the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) environment. She has also worked with both hospitals and physician practices on the legal and financial aspects of adding new services to their respective facilities. Dr. Nash is a consultant on coding/compliance audits at physician practices and hospitals, and has worked for insurance plans conducting second- and third-level appeals. Her past experience also included consulting for the Office of the Inspector General of New Hampshire in its Fraud and Abuse Division.

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