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Under Scrutiny, Abbott Appointee Resigns from Acupuncture Board

After questions about his own medical practice came to public attention, a member of one of Texas’ medical licensing boards has resigned from the position Gov. Greg Abbott appointed him to last month.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a Rotary Club of San Antonio luncheon on March 23, 2016.

After questions about his own medical practice came to public attention, a member of one of Texas’ medical licensing boards has resigned from the position to which Gov. Greg Abbott appointed him last month.

Daniel Brudnak, a family medicine and acupuncture physician from Gorman, last week resigned from the Texas Board of Acupuncture Examiners, one day after The Texas Tribune requested records about his appointment.

Among other issues, Brudnak “inappropriately” prescribed stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs known as benzodiazepines without adequate evaluations, according to a 2011 order by the Texas Medical Board.

That history apparently did not come up with Abbott or his staff when Brudnak was being vetted for a spot on the board that regulates and licenses the practice of acupuncture with approval from the medical board.

A spokesman for the governor said this week that new revelations led Abbott to believe it was inappropriate for the doctor to serve on a Texas regulatory board.

“After our office was made aware of the seriousness of these violations, Dr. Brudnak tendered his resignation and we accepted it,” the spokesman, John Wittman, said in an email.

Brudnak did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

In a June 21 letter to Abbott explaining his resignation, Brudnak said he had been upfront about his disciplinary history and wished the governor had raised any concerns before making the appointment.

“It was with surprise and joy that I accepted the solicitation from your staff to apply to be a member of the Board of Acupuncture Examiners and even more so when you graciously appointed me to the board,” Brudnak wrote.

“It has been suggested to me that it would be in your best interest that I step down from the board due to a board order dated 2/4/11, which I had fully disclosed in my application and interviews several times and is a matter of public record,” he wrote. “I do wish that this had been addressed before my appointment and I do wish you the best.”

In his application to the acupuncture board position, Brudnak wrote that he had previously been reprimanded by the medical board. In a section describing the order, he wrote: “went to arbitration about medical records. all resolved public record.”

The medical board charged Brudnak with "non-therapeutic prescribing practices" and found he had inadequate medical records. Brudnak “did not properly handle chronic pain with medications,” according to the disciplinary order, though the Texas Medical Board noted that it “did not constitute a majority of his practice.”

He was required to have an outside physician monitor his practice for roughly three years and to take 24 hours of continuing medical education classes on ethics, risk management and medical record keeping. He also had to pass the Texas Medical Jurisprudence Exam.

Brudnak disagreed with at least some of the regulatory board’s findings but complied with its directions, according to public records. His order was “terminated due to completion of all requirements” in 2014, according to the Texas Medical Board.

The resignation leaves Abbott with one more spot to fill in a backlog of about 300 vacant or expired appointees he must make to the state’s manifold boards and commissions. 

Brudnak served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and provided medical support to the Department of Defense for NASA space shuttle launches, according to a May press release from Abbott’s office. In addition to his family practice, he currently serves as the medical director of the Gorman Volunteer Fire Department, Olden Volunteer Fire Department, Cisco Volunteer Fire Department and Kindred Hospice, according to the press release.

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