Head of Texas Medical Board quits

December 19, 2008 6:15:57 AM PST
Dr. Roberta Kalafut, who is the subject of a federal lawsuit by a doctors' association, has resigned as president of the Texas Medical Board. Kalafut stepped down at the medical board's meeting Friday, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family and her physical and rehabilitation medicine practice in Abilene, according to board spokeswoman Jill Wiggins.

Gov. Rick Perry named board member Irvin Zeitler Jr. of San Angelo as president and appointed Kalafut to hear occasional disciplinary cases against doctors as part of a district review committee, Wiggins said. Kalafut won't be on the board, and Perry has not yet named someone to the vacant seat, Wiggins said, the Austin American-Statesman reported Friday in its online edition.

"We applaud Kalafut's resignation. AAPS has received far more complaints from good physicians in Texas about their medical board than from any other state," said a statement by Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

A year ago the association sued Kalafut, other members of the board and some medical board employees, in federal District Court in Texarkana. The suit accuses Kalafut of using her husband, Dr. Edward Bradecker, to file anonymous complaints against her competitors to get those physicians sanctioned.

It also accuses a former board member of conflicts of interest, along with other allegations against the board, including retaliation and misusing its authority.

Kalafut did not return a call Wednesday, but Wiggins provided a letter from the board's attorney that said Kalafut had never filed any complaints, anonymous or signed, against other doctors as a board member and that her husband had filed just one complaint. That complaint did not involve a doctor in Abilene, and the board dismissed it as "an isolated error," according to a letter from the attorney, Robert Simpson.

Wiggins declined to comment because of the pending litigation by the physicians organization.

Regarding the status of an investigation by the Travis County district attorney's office into allegations raised about Kalafut by doctors opposing her, Wiggins provided an e-mail from Simpson that said: "I provided about 20 boxes of paper records and 16 CDs full of electronic information to the DA's office. They submitted several requests for additional information. In August, the DA dismissed the investigation with no action."

Gregg Cox, head of the DA's public integrity office, did not return a call seeking comment.

Dr. Josie R. Williams, president of the Texas Medical Association, the state's largest physicians organization, praised Kalafut's work on the board. "Dr. Kalafut led the Texas Medical Board through some turbulent times," Williams said in a written statement. "She will be remembered as a strong leader who put the people of Texas first."

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