An 84-year-old doctor has been denied her request to regain her medical licence because she can’t use a computer.
Dr Anna Konopka keeps her 300 patients’ handwritten medical records in filing cabinets in a 160-year-old New Hampshire office where she has practiced for the last 30 years.
But the state challenged her record keeping, prescribing practices and medical decisions citing her limited computer skills prevent her from using the state’s new mandatory electronic drug monitoring program.
The program established in 2016, requires physicians who prescribe opiates to register in an effort to combat the current crisis.
Konopka said she was pressured to surrender her license last month but hoped to regain it as 30 of her patients wrote to Superior Court Judge John Kissinger asking him to reconsider his ruling against their doctor.
Dr Anna Konopka, 84, is pictured in front of her 160-year-old New Hampshire office where she has practiced for 30 years
Konopka is pictured on November 3 during a hearing regarding her medical license. She was denied her request to regain her license partly due to her limited computer skills
Dr Anna Konopka, left, is greeted by Barbara McKelvy, right, following an emergency court hearing about Konopka’s medical license at Merrimack County Superior Court
Allegations against Konopka began three years ago with a complaint by other local physicians about her treatment of a seven-year-old patient with asthma.
She has been accused of leaving dosing levels of one medication up to the parents and failing to treat the patient with daily inhaled steroids.
Konopka, who agreed to a board reprimand in May, said she never harmed the patient and the boy’s mother disregarded her instructions.
Four more complaints have since been filed against Konopka.
In September, the New Hampshire Board of Medicine voted to move forward with a disciplinary hearing on those complaints. But before the hearing was held, Konopka agreed in to give up her license – something she said she was forced to do.
Medical officials moved against Konopka because of her inability to use the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
In an effort to combat the current opioid crisis, state medical officials enacted regulations last year that require physicians who prescribe opiates and other addictive medicine to register and check online to make sure patients are not receiving addictive drugs from other doctors.
However, Konopka said the online system is confusing and though an assistant would be able to access it for her, she does not have the means to hire a worker.
The licence denial is partly due to limited computer skills that prevent her from using a mandatory electronic drug monitoring program to register doctors who prescribe opiates
Thirty of her patients who she treats in her office (pictured) have written the judge to ask him to reconsider the ruling against their doctor
Konopka, a Polish immigrant who came to the US in 1961, has built a loyal following in New London, New Hampshire, because patients say she brings a personal touch unlike big hospitals and inattentive doctors.
She often attracts patients who have run out of options, many with complicated conditions, such as chronic pain.
One patient who suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair told WMUR9, ‘I wouldn’t have my life without her.’
Another patient said doctors had him on seven different medications and with Konopka he’s down to just one and it has been working.
Konopoka also draws patients who have no insurance and little means to pay.
She takes anyone willing to pay her $50 in cash – making it difficult for her to afford a nurse, secretary or a lawyer to handle her case, she said.
‘I am fighting. Therefore as long as I am fighting, I have some hope,’ she added.