Woman says Austin doctor nearly killed her

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by KELI RABON / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on November 18, 2011 at 5:40 PM

AUSTIN -- Dena Buckley says she was suffering from the same problems many middle-aged women face, when she saw Dr. Russell Roby on a late-night infomercial.

"I was having fatigue, weight gain, needed a little more energy in my day, and was having just your basic allergies," Buckley said.

After listening to Dr. Roby's message, Buckley says she instantly felt hope.

"It was like, 'Oh my gosh, this is exactly what's happening to me,'" Buckley said.

She made an appointment, and after running several tests, she says Dr. Roby gave her the diagnosis.

"Apparently I'm allergic to almost everything -- eggs, grass. I knew I had some allergies with the mold and the cedar, but I didn't know I was allergic to all the things he said I was," Buckley said. 

He prescribed Buckley small vials of a clear liquid. She says Dr. Roby told her to put the drops under her tongue with this syringe to treat her allergies.

"When you start to believe in someone, you believe them all the way. So I actually thought there was truth in the fact that you can get allergic to your own hormones," Buckley said.

Buckley says she took the drops for a few weeks, and didn't notice a change until the night she says she nearly died. 

"I woke up with literally hives all over my body. My throat was swelling, my lips were swelling, and I was rushed to the emergency room, where I was in full anaphylactic shock," Buckley said.

Dr. Roby's own patient forms describe anaphylactic shock as "a strong allergic reaction to medications that are used in his care...such as reactions, rash, and even death."

Buckley signed the paperwork, but says she was rushed through the process and never warned verbally about risks. 

"It was never, ever, never brought up that these could have such a bad effect on anyone, never," Buckley said.

After three trips to the emergency room, Buckley filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board.

"It's important that the individual know ahead of time that this can happen, and is among the possible risks," Leigh Hopper, spokesperson for TMB, said.

Hopper says Dr. Roby not only failed to explain potential side effects. He wasn't telling patients his treatments aren't FDA-approved.

"If it's a treatment that's not FDA-approved and therefore hasn't gone through that thorough, scientific vetting process, it might not work; it might cause some sort of adverse reaction," Hopper said.

After a year-long investigation, the 19-member board found Dr. Roby was "alterating medical records," "entered into a sexual relationship with a patient," and "failed to use diligence in his practice."

Dr. Roby received a public reprimand and a $3,000 fine, but this wasn't Roby's first run-in with the Board.

In all, the Board has disciplined Dr. Roby six times for reasons ranging from "false, deceptive or misleading" advertising to "failure to practice medicine in an acceptable manner."

However, Dr. Roby is still licensed to practice today. 

"Yes he's still practicing, but I think when you realize that the majority of doctor's don't have any disciplinary action, then when you see a doctor who has come to the attention of the Board and been sanctioned numerous times, that's a red flag," Hopper said. 

"I think the Texas Medical Board, if they had a family member, a niece, a daughter, a friend, a mother who went through this, they would have taken completely different action. I'm surprised. I'm appalled actually," Buckley said.

Buckley says she can't change what happened. She's just glad to be alive.

"I really wish that they would have done more, so I could be assured this wouldn't happen to another woman," Buckley said.

Dr. Roby declined to be interviewed on camera for this story, but in a phone conversation, said the Board has repeatedly targeted him because he "practices alternative medicine." Roby also said, "If the Board thought anything serious happened, they would have revoked my license."

Click here to research a licensed physician.

Click here to file a complaint with the Texas Medical Board.

You can follow investigative reporter Keli Rabon on her Facebook page here.

 

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