Patients Suffer After Doctor's License Is Temporarily Suspended - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/10/06-Palestine

Patients Suffer After Doctor's License Is Temporarily Suspended

He was ordered not to practice medicine. After the Texas Medical Board found him to be a threat to his patients.Dr. Robert J. Byrnes of the Palestine Medical and Rehabilitation Center had his license temporarily suspended Friday.

The board cited, among other things, a June indictment for insurance fraud, a guilty plea in August for making assaults and threats to a family member, and a positive urine test in July for amphetamines.

He was also cited for a list of prescription drugs like oxycodone that were allegedly found in his car in August.

As KLTV 7's Lindsay Wilcox expains, those Dr. Byrnes once treated are now suffering for his alleged actions.

When allegations surfaced against Dr. Robert Byrnes last month, it left patients like Patrick Tuskey stunned.

"I thought i had a good doctor," says Tuskey.

Patrick's been a patient at the rehab center since he hurt his back on the job a year ago. The clinic is now being run by Doctor James Branch, a retired doctor with 42 years experience, who's cleaning up the mess he says Dr. Byrnes left behind.

"He had taken all of the records, so I had to start a new history and physicals. We had to call for X-Rays, MRI's, lab work. We didn't have anything. We had some people on large doses of pain medication, and I had to ween them off, or at least cut them down. Some of them were taking three to four times what a normal person would take," says Branch.

Those who work here say many of their patients, like Patrick, are on workers' compensation. They say Dr. Byrnes didn't file the proper paperwork for months, and many of their patients are now in jeopardy of losing benefits. For Patrick, the problem is even worse than that.

"We're threatened to be kicked out of our apartment. We're behind on our rent. Our utilities, we had a little bit of help with, but basically, our lives have been turned upside down," says Patrick.

The clinic is looking for a full time replacement for their practice, so patients can continue getting the treatment they need. They say there is still a lot of work before things can get back to normal.

The Texas Medical Board says Byrnes was '...An imminent peril to the public health, safety and welfare that requird immediate effect of this Order of Temporary Suspension.'

We tried to reach Dr. Byrnes for his comment, but were unable to.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

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