Hospitals are being pressured to offer ivermectin

One hospital in Montana was closed and called the police after a woman threatened violence because her relative was denied her request for ivermectin treatment.

Officials at another Montana hospital have accused government officials of threatening and harassing their healthcare providers for refusing to treat a politically connected COVID-19 patient with this antiparasitic drug or hydroxychloroquine, another drug not approved by the FDA for the treatment of COVID.

And in neighboring Idaho, a medical resident said police had to be called to the hospital after a relative of a COVID patient verbally abused and threatened her with physical abuse because she did not prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, “drugs that do not help treat covid-19 “, – she wrote.

These three conflicts, which took place from September to November, underscore the pressure on healthcare workers to provide unauthorized treatment for the coronavirus, especially in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low, government skepticism is high, and conservative leaders champion treatments.

“It will be from time to time, but this is not the norm,” said Rich Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Montana Hospital Association. “The vast majority of patients fully comply with the rules and have good conversations with their healthcare providers. But you will have such emissions. “

Even before the pandemic, the healthcare industry led all industries in the United States in non-fatal workplace violence, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. COVID has exacerbated the problem, leading to improved hospital safety, staff training and calls for stronger federal regulation.

Ivermectin and other unapproved treatments for COVID have become a major source of controversy in recent months. Lawsuits over the refusal of hospitals to provide ivermectin to patients have been filed in Texas, Florida, Illinois and other countries. The harassment with ivermectin extends not only to the United States, but also to healthcare providers and public health workers around the world, in countries such as Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom. However, reports of threats of violence and harassment, such as those recently seen in the Northern Rocky Mountains, have been relatively rare.

Ivermectin is approved for the treatment of parasites in animals, and low doses of the drug are approved for the treatment of worms, head lice, and certain skin conditions in humans. But the FDA has not approved the drug to treat COVID. The agency says clinical trials are ongoing, but current data does not show that this is an effective treatment for COVID, and taking higher than approved levels could lead to overdose.

Likewise, hydroxychloroquine can cause serious health problems, and the drug does not help speed recovery or reduce the likelihood of dying from COVID, according to the FDA.

In Missoula, Montana, a community health center was locked down and police were called on November 17 after a woman reportedly threatened death over the treatment of her relative, according to the police department. Nobody was arrested.

“A family member was upset that the patient was not being treated with ivermectin,” Lt. Eddie McLean said Tuesday.

Hospital spokeswoman Megan Kondra confirmed on Wednesday that a relative of the patient demanded ivermectin, but she said the patient was not there due to COVID, although she refused to disclose the patient’s medical problem. Kondra added that the hospital’s main entrance was locked to control who entered the building, but the hospital’s formal isolation procedures were not followed.

This fear was reminiscent of the one that happened in Idaho in September. Dr. Ashley Carvalho, who is completing her medical residency in Boise, wrote in an article in Idaho Capital Sun that she was verbally abused and threatened with physical abuse and legal action by a patient’s relative after she refused to prescribe ivermectin. or hydroxychloroquine.

“My patient found it difficult to breathe, but the family refused to let me help,” Carvalho wrote. “The only way out was to call the police.”

An 82-year-old woman who was active in Montana’s republican politics was admitted to St Peter’s Hospital on Helena Island with COVID in October. According to a November report from a special attorney appointed by state legislators, a family friend contacted Deputy Attorney General Chris Hansen, a former Republican senator of the state, with numerous complaints: hospital staff did not deliver the power of attorney left by relatives. For the patient to sign, she was denied her preferred medical treatment, cut off from her family, and the family worried that hospital staff might prevent her from leaving. The patient later died.

The complaint led to the involvement of Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who wrote a message to a Montana Hospital Association lobbyist who also sits on St. Peter’s board of directors. An image of the exchange was included in the report.

“I’m going to send law enforcement and charge them with illegal restraint of freedom,” Knudsen wrote to Mark Taylor, who replied that he would make inquiries.

“This has been going on since yesterday and I was hoping the hospital would do the right thing. But my patience is running out, ”added the Attorney General.

A Montana Highway Patrol soldier was sent to the hospital to take statements from the patient’s family. Hansen also participated in a teleconference with several healthcare providers during which she spoke about the “legal implications” of withholding documents and the patient’s preferred treatment, which included ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Public Service Commissioner Jennifer Fielder, a former Republican State Senator, left a three-minute voicemail on the hospital line, saying the patient’s friends in the Senate would not be too happy to hear about St. Peter’s care, according to the special adviser. report.

Fielder and the patient’s daughter also cited the “right to try” law passed by Montana legislators in 2015, which allows terminally ill patients to seek experimental treatment. But a legal analysis written for the Montana Medical Association says that while the law does not require a provider to prescribe a particular drug if the patient requires it, it can give the provider legal immunity if the provider chooses to prescribe treatment, according to the Montana State Bureau of Information …

The report does not contain any findings or allegations of wrongdoing.

Hospital officials said before and after the report was published that their healthcare providers were threatened and harassed when they refused to prescribe certain treatments for COVID.

“We support our contention that the involvement of government officials in the provision of health care is inappropriate; that people have used their official positions in an attempt to influence clinical care; and that some of the exchanges that took place were threatening or harassing, ”spokeswoman Katie Gallagher said.

“In addition, we reviewed all medical and legal records relating to the care of this patient and confirmed that our teams provided care in accordance with best clinical practice, hospital policy and patient rights,” added Gallagher.

The Attorney General’s office did not respond to a request for comment, but told Montana Free Press in a statement that no one at the state agency had threatened anyone.

Rasmussen, head of the Montana Hospital Association, said St. Peter’s officials had not approached the group for help. He downplayed the attorney general’s intervention in Helena, saying that often people who know medical leaders or caregivers speak on behalf of a relative or friend.

“Is this a different situation? Of course, because this is from the attorney general, ”Rasmussen said. “But I think AG has responded to voters. Others will contact everyone they know on the hospital board. ”

He added that hospitals have procedures in place to allow family members of patients to file their complaints with the head or other head of the hospital without resorting to threats.

Hospitals in the region, which monitored reports of threats and harassment, declined to comment on their procedures to resolve such conflicts.

“We respect the independent medical opinion of our healthcare providers who practice medicine in accordance with approved, authorized treatment and recognized clinical standards,” said Lauren Brendel, spokesman for Bozeman Health.

Tanner Gooch, a spokesman for SCL Health Montana, which operates hospitals in Billings, Butte and Miles City, said SCL does not support ivermectin or other COVID treatments that have not been approved by the FDA, nor does it prohibit them.

“Ultimately, the decision on treatment is at the discretion of the doctor,” Gutsch said. “To our knowledge, none of the COVID-19 patients were treated with ivermectin in our hospitals.”

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