Whatever happened to...? Dr. Stefan KonasiewiczThe former Duluth neurosurgeon, disciplined for unethical and unprofessional conduct during his time at St. Luke's, has apparently left his practices in Texas.
For inauspicious reasons, Dr. Stefan Konasiewicz may be one of the best-known doctors to have ever worked in Duluth.
But where he’s practicing now — if at all — is anybody’s guess. Not even the state licensing agencies that are supposed to keep tabs on physicians know exactly where Konasiewicz is.
The former St. Luke’s neurosurgeon worked at the South Texas Brain and Spine Center in Corpus Christi since February 2009 before resigning sometime around October. His name was taken off the building, and staff members tell patients that he’s no longer there.
“I asked where he was,” said Joe Griffin, a patient of Konasiewicz’s in Corpus Christi who now sees another doctor at the South Texas Brain and Spine Center, “and they said that’s a private matter.”
In October, the clinic’s office manager told Steven Romo of Corpus Christi’s KRIS-TV that Konasiewicz had resigned. However, both the American Medical Association and the Texas Medical Board still list Konasiewicz as practicing there.
The Texas Medical Board requires physicians to update their address within 30 days of moving to a new practice location. Board spokeswoman Leigh Hopper said Konasiewicz hasn’t updated his address with them since 2009.
She did not say if Konasiewicz was in compliance with Texas regulations.
“If we receive a complaint that his information is out of date, we can look into it,” Hopper said in an e-mail to the News Tribune. “Other ways it might surface would be if the [Texas Medical Board] tries to reach him and cannot, or when he renews his license. He doesn’t have to renew his license until 2013. I will pass along the info you shared with the appropriate department.”
Konasiewicz also is listed with the Texas Medical Board as having practicing privileges at three Corpus Christi hospitals. Representative for all of the hospitals said Konasiewicz is no longer practicing at them.
Katie Kaiser, a spokeswoman for the largest hospital system in Corpus Christi, Christus Spohn, said Konasiewicz resigned his privileges there on Sept. 20.
“He voluntarily left,” Kaiser said. “People I asked weren’t even sure he was still in Texas.”
Spokesmen for the other two hospitals, Driscoll Children’s Hospital and Doctor’s Regional, said Konasiewicz still has privileges at the facilities, but is not seeing patients at either.
Konasiewicz did not respond to requests for comment by phone and in writing from the News Tribune. However, his attorney, Shawn Raiter, acknowledged that Konasiewicz did resign from the South Texas Brain and Spine Center and from Christus Spohn.
“It was his own business and personal reasons,” Raiter said, declining to offer any further information on the resignations.
Raiter said Konasiewicz continues to practice in Corpus Christi and will maintain his privileges at the two other hospitals in the city. He said Konasiewicz also will update his business address with the Texas Medical Board and will list his home address in Corpus Christi.
“But he’s going to get some kind of a clinic or an office of some sort,” Raiter said.
Konasiewicz’s resignation from the South Texas Brain and Spine Center came on the heels of several News Tribune stories reporting problems Konasiewicz had while at St. Luke’s, where he practiced from 1997 to 2008.
During his time there, Konasiewicz was sued for malpractice more than any other physician in St. Louis County, including for allegations that he was responsible for two patient deaths and injuring another patient’s spine so severely that she lost the use of arms and legs. He would settle those claims for at least $3.2 million. By 2005, private insurers considered him such a high risk that they wouldn’t cover him, and instead Konasiewicz was forced to get malpractice insurance through a special fund set up through the state of Minnesota.
The News Tribune also reported that in 2008 the St. Louis County medical examiner Dr. Don Kundel became so concerned about the patient care provided by Konasiewicz that he requested the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice to investigate Konasiewicz to determine if he was “incompetent or reckless.”
A few months after Kundel wrote that letter, Konasiewicz went to Texas.
In late 2010, he was disciplined for unethical and unprofessional conduct by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice.
On Oct. 24, Konasiewicz registered two corporations with the Texas Secretary of State, Kona Management and Skona Management, but did not provide a list of the services the corporations would offer.
The corporations listed one director, Konasiewicz, and were listed with business addresses in McAllen, Texas, which is about two and a half hours away from Corpus Christi and about 12 miles from the Mexican border.
That address was actually that of Konasiewicz’s accountant, Luis Castilleja, who told the News Tribune he was asked to form the corporations by Konasiewicz.
Konasiewicz created the corporations in part to begin practicing on his own, Raiter said.
“But they also relate to pre-existing investments or business operations,” Raiter said. “I have no idea what that is, but (Konasiewicz) said it’s for my own personal investments, property, business, consulting kind of stuff.”
“But certainly he said at least one of them would be used for his own personal private practice,” he said.