Are patients legally able to demand ivermectin treatment from hospitals?

Sep 2, 2021, 11:55 AM
COVID, ivermectin...
Nurses admit a patient transferred from the ICU COVID unit to the acute care COVID unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

How far the can the government go in trying to protect you from your own decisions when it comes to this pandemic? One of the issues before the court is whether or not a patient can force a hospital to give them a drug — in this case, ivermectin — that they think will work even if the doctor forbids it.

Washington Poison Center warns ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID

The case in question is from Ohio, involving a COVID patient who wanted to be treated with ivermectin.

“There’s a lot at stake here in terms of hospitals being forced by judges to administer treatments that in their best medical judgment aren’t safe and aren’t effective,” said Rob McKenna, former state attorney general. “But nevertheless, this county judge in Ohio issued an order forcing the hospital where the plaintiff’s husband is staying to administer ivermectin. It’s a drug I had not heard of before because it’s an animal de-wormer that has been approved for human use to address parasitic infections, but it’s not an antiviral drug.”

There are a group of physicians, McKenna said, who are promoting ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 and as a drug you can take to avoid catching the virus.

“Unfortunately, the court’s order was published, but it only consisted of the order. It didn’t include any kind of reasoning or any legal analysis to explain why the judge believed he had the authority and the expertise to order the hospital to do something they clearly thought was inappropriate,” McKenna said.

The judge ordered that the patient get his way and that the hospital was required to give him this drug for a certain number of doses. His wife had been arguing on his behalf in court.

“This is a person who is very, very sick,” McKenna explained. “He tested positive on July 9. He was admitted to the ICU at the hospital July 15. He’s been intubated, placed on a ventilator Aug. 1. Then he developed a secondary infection. I think his wife is desperate and grasping at straws here.”

“And there’s a group out there that’s promoting I’ll say ‘novel treatments,’ including this group called the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, which is a nonprofit that lists this one doctor as a founding physician, a doctor who’s promoting ivermectin as a treatment,” McKenna continued. “And he’s claiming that the FDA and CDC are engaged in a conspiracy to block the use of ivermectin because he thinks they’re somehow trying to protect their use of vaccines. I don’t know if he thinks that using this deworming drug is going to knock out vaccines — it’s a little hard to follow.”

McKenna says the doctor in that group believes the CDC and FDA have been engaging in censorship on ivermectin’s merits.

“I would just point out that the CDC and FDA have actually been pretty aggressive,” McKenna said. “And most of the criticism I’ve seen is that they are allowing drugs to be used on emergency basis that haven’t been fully [approved].”

As McKenna points out, a major argument from people who are against the vaccine is because it’s only authorized under an emergency use authorization — though now Pfizer has been fully approved.

“That reminded me of all the different drugs they gave President Trump when he went to Walter Reed after he was diagnosed with COVID last year, and it reminds me that they were aggressive in his treatment and used a lot of drugs that were new and maybe were more fairly characterized as ‘experimental,’ including an antibody cocktail and other drugs,” McKenna said. “So I’m saying the CDC and FDA are not shy about trying new things, but there’s a lot of evidence that ivermectin, this deworming medicine, is not only not effective in treating COVID or preventing it, but it’s actually dangerous.”

In a case like the one in Ohio, what would happen to the hospital if the patient dies because of the forced treatment?

“I would think that being under a court order to administer it would create some sort of legal immunity,” McKenna said. “But more than that, the fact the wife is insisting on it, what claim is she going to have if her husband then dies? Except maybe a claim that, ‘well, if he’d gotten this drug sooner, he wouldn’t have died.’ But the problem with that argument is there’s just no scientific evidence to really back it up at all.”

“And by the way, it appears that the individual whose wife is trying to get him ivermectin was not vaccinated,” he added. “So he chose not to get vaccinated but now his wife is trying to get him this deworming drug.”

Ross: Running out of sympathy for the unvaccinated?

KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross replied that he’s stopped trying to understand “why people who are afraid of the vaccine are perfectly happy getting a drug that was designed for horses.”

“I agree,” McKenna said. “And I see my friend, the attorney general of Ohio, is trying to stay out of it. He, according to the news coverage, declined comment and referred inquiries to the board of pharmacy and veterinary board.”

“I don’t blame him,” Dave said.

“I don’t either,” McKenna agreed. “I would duck and cover on this one, too, if I were him.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Are patients legally able to demand ivermectin treatment from hospitals?