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?