A new string of lawsuits by guardians of critically ill Covid patients have won rulings that have compelled hospitals in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Illinois to administer ivermectin to the patients, described in court papers as “on their deathbed” or at “death’s door.”
The cliffhanger dramas, unfolding in courtrooms and at the bedsides of ICU patients across the country, made headlines in many local papers. Fox News, Washington Post, Epoch Times and Daily Mail carried the stories as well.
In two of the cases, hospital opposition and days of prolonged legal wrangling ran down the clock on the Covid patients, and the judge’s emergency order came too late to help them.
One case concerned a 52-year-old Pennsylvania man who was rapidly deteriorating on a ventilator. His family waged and eventually won an intense legal battle for him to be given ivermectin, yet the hospital continued to obstruct the judge’s order. By the time it was implemented, the patient had died.
The attorney who brought the lawsuit, and who has won similar cases in New York and Ohio, bemoaned the delays that he said sealed his client’s fate. “I’ve lost about a third of the people who hired me because we couldn’t get approval quick enough,” NY attorney Ralph Lorigo said in an interview, adding that in situations where hospitals were less oppositional, ivermectin has often spelled the difference between life and death.
“What harm does it do the hospital to try?” he asked. “Every human being has the right to do what they can to save their life.”
That prerogative is enshrined in federal law, and in many cases, in state law as well. Known as the “Right To Try,” the law provides for a terminally ill patient who has exhausted all conventional medical treatments, to exercise his right to try an “investigative” drug that has not yet been fully approved.
Among the spate of lawsuits mentioned above, a case in Illinois, in which a judge directed a hospital to grant ivermectin to a 71-year-old man on his deathbed, offers a vivid example of how granting a deathly ill patient “the right to try” can sometimes vanquish the odds and miraculously trigger a turnaround.
Mr. Sun Ng from Hong Kong was visiting his daughter in the Chicago area, when he fell ill with Covid and was hospitalized at Edward Hospital in Naperville. After a few days, with his oxygen levels sinking, he was sedated and placed on a ventilator.
His daughter, Dr. Kwan Ng, asked hospital authorities to try ivermectin which she discovered has helped some people recover from late-stage Covid. They refused, saying it was not included in the hospital’s protocol for Covid treatment.
The daughter, who held power of attorney to make medical decisions on her father’s behalf, hired Chicago law firm Mauck and Baker and New York law firm Parlato Law, which handles ivermectin litigation throughout the United States, according to the Epoch News article.
“They’ve given him the routine treatment they give at the hospital, which is remdesivir, and that was ineffective, and he’s been on the ventilator for almost three weeks now,” attorney Kirstin Erickson told a news reporter while the case was being litigated.
One Foot in the Grave
“Mr. Ng is close to death in this picture,” Erickson affirmed in court, presenting as evidence the patient’s medical records accompanied by a picture of him on a ventilator, barely clinging to life. “The hospital can do nothing more for him.” He should be allowed the right to try ivermectin in a last-ditch effort at survival, the attorney said.
At an evidentiary hearing before Du Page County Judge Paul Fullerton on Nov. 5, the hospital’s attorneys pointed out that the preliminary injunction the daughter was seeking was unwarranted–“an extraordinary remedy.”
The judge said “I can’t think of a more extraordinary situation than when we are talking about a man’s life,” Fullerton stressed, according to court records. “There is no dispute from the testimony of the doctors … that his risk of dying is over 50 percent. And according to one physician, someone in Mr. Ng’s situation has only a 10 to 15 percent of survival.”
Fullerton issued a preliminary injunction directing the hospital to “immediately allow temporary emergency privileges” to Ng’s physician, Dr. Alan Bain, “solely to administer ivermectin to this patient.”
Before the treatment could be implemented, however, hospital administrators discovered Dr. Bain had not been vaccinated, Fox News reported. Hospital authorities claimed that allowing him to treat a patient would violate hospital policy, as well as Gov. Pritzker’s executive order on health worker vaccinations.
Back in court for another hearing, the judge heard out the arguments but was unpersuaded. He cited an exemption in the governor’s order that allows health care workers to be admitted to hospitals if they test negative for Covid.
After the family’s attorney confirmed that Dr. Bain presented a negative test, he was finally allowed to start the ivermectin treatment — a series of 15 daily shots—three weeks after Mr. Ng had been put on a ventilator.
‘Today He Passed A Breathing Test’
The family’s attorney claimed the patient showed signs of improvement almost immediately. “Today he passed a breathing test that he hadn’t been able to pass in the last three weeks. And he looked more alert and aware. So I would say that the first dose of ivermectin is actually working and is effective,” Erickson told Fox News.
Sun Ng was released from the hospital Nov. 27. His family says he’s now at home and feeling well.
“My father’s recovery is amazing,” Dr. Kwan Nug said in a news release. “Our family especially thanks Judge Paul Fullerton. Without him, we couldn’t have brought my father home. We could never have seen him smile at us again.”
“He was weaned off oxygen about three days after moving out of the ICU,” she continued. “He returned home without carrying a bottle of oxygen or a feeding tube in his stomach. He can now stand with a walker at the bedside and practice taking steps. After being sedated for a month on a ventilator in ICU, his performance is beyond anything we could have dreamed of. Praise G-d.”
‘Do Not Resuscitate’
In another ivermectin case, a Florida resident, David Lefevers, lay clinging to life in the ICU while doctors urged his daughter Mindy to sign a “do-not-resuscitate” (DNR) agreement, warning her that he was not likely to recover.
Mr. Lefevers’ odyssey had begun when in the midst of watching a program about Alaska, he asked his daughter a peculiar question. “Are we in Florida or Alaska?” he queried, revealing a confused state of mind that immediately alerted her and her mother that something was wrong. His wife, Priscilla, immediately drove her husband to the ER where, short of breath and disoriented, he was put on oxygen.
When his Covid test came back positive, his wife and daughter immediately lobbied for him to be treated with ivermectin, as daughter Mindy had used it herself when she recently had Covid. But the infectious disease doctor she spoke to in the hospital told her “that’s not approved for usage in the United States,” and that her father would be given remdesivir, instead.
When the standard treatment proved completely ineffective over the next few days, David was sent to the ICU, where he rapidly declined. At this time, both wife and daughter were asked permission to put him on a ventilator and to sign DNR orders. According to the Epoch Times report, both women refused to allow the hospital to do either.
Restricted to visits of no more than 30 minutes a day, Mindy Lefevers testified she belatedly discovered the hospital was using restraints to confine her father to his bed. The family protested the treatment and considered legal action, but then decided to move forward with transferring Mr. Lefevers out of the hospital.
At that point, authorities backed down and agreed to place the patient on a five-day, eight pills per day course of Ivermectin. To everyone’s surprise, he showed significant improvement by the end of the five-day regimen. But after doctors continued to pressure them to sign DNRs, his wife decided to move him to a different facility.
The family brought David to Downtown Orlando hospital within the same health system, where Priscilla was allowed to spend ten hours a day with him. Her supporting presence was immediately reflected in a faster rate of recovery, the family says. In less than two weeks, David was discharged. At home, it took several more weeks until he no longer needed oxygen treatments.
Daughter Mindy said her father no longer had an immune system, after taking chemotherapy treatments for the previous year for Hodgkin’s disease. “The only way to explain his recovery—even according to his doctors”—she said, “is ivermectin.”
Throwing Up Roadblocks
In another lawsuit, Mrs. Kathleen Davies, a Covid patient from Virginia in her sixties, had been sedated and placed on a ventilator at Fauquier Hospital. Her husband Donald Davies, who held power of attorney in his wife’s case, asked the hospital to administer Ivermectin.
Citing medical, legal and practical concerns, the hospital declined, according to an article in a local paper, Prince William Times.
After Kathleen’s oxygen levels sank to the low 70s, the family went to court and won an injunction from Judge James Fisher of the 20th Judicial Court, ordering the hospital to allow Davies’ family members to administer the drug. An attempt was made to administer ivermectin that same evening, but the family was denied access.
Judge Fisher then ordered the hospital to transfer Kathleen Davies’ care to her family physician, Dr. Martha Maturi of Fairfax County. Fauquier Hospital’s attorneys immediately filed a motion listing the hospital’s objections to his order.
The hospital protested that “Dr. Maturi does not have privileges at Fauquier Hospital, and is not board certified in critical care medicine or emergency medicine. Accordingly, she does not have the qualifications to provide care to patients who are inpatients in the ICU setting.”
In response, Judge Fisher clarified that Virginia state law does not require a doctor to have hospital privileges and that criteria is therefore not a prerequisite for prescribing medication.
“According to [state law], he noted, “an agent operating under an Advance Medical Directive [in this case, Mrs. Davies’ husband], is authorized with full power to make health care decisions for [the patient]. The agent may consent to medication, and may ‘hire and fire’ [the patient’s] health care providers… That is what happened here,” he wrote.
Fisher further ruled that the hospital must transfer care of the patient to the patient’s chosen physician, regardless of whether the hospital believes that physician meets their qualifications, and allow that physician to attend the patient and fully direct her care.
When an additional three days passed without the hospital permitting Dr. Maturi to administer ivermectin to Mrs. Davies, the frantic family again appealed to the judge.
This time, Fisher took harsh action.
Hospital Held in Contempt of Court
He signed an order finding Fauquier Hospital in contempt of court, accusing it of “needlessly interposing requirements that stand in the way of the patient’s physician administering investigational drugs, as part of the federal and state Right to Try Acts.”
“Given the gravity at hand,” the judge admonished the hospital, “Fauquier Hospital is ordered to pay “$10,000 per day retroactive to the date of the court’s order until the ordered relief has been accomplished.”
Upon receipt of the contempt order and financial penalties, the hospital hastened to comply. In a statement issued Dec. 14, Fauquier Hospital said it had permitted Dr. Maturi into the hospital to administer ivermectin.
“The hospital sees this as a fight between its authority and the rights of patients, and this case could set a precedent, said Christopher Davies, whose mother is at the center of the firestorm. “I’m not trying to go after the hospital,” he continued. “I just want to try anything that could help my mother. She’s on her death bed. Any kind of concern over negative repercussions [from ivermectin] should be null and void.”
As the cliffhanger continues to unfold, Mrs. Davies’ condition is being closely monitored by a range of concerned parties including family members and hospital authorities, with conflicting hopes and emotions affecting all.
In late November, less than two weeks after the onset of Covid illness, 52-year-old Keith Smith was put into a medically induced coma and intubated in the Covid ICU at UPMC Memorial Hospital.
Early into his hospital stay, his wife Darla Smith requested doctors administer ivermectin, as his physician had prescribed the drug but they had not yet had a chance to obtain it. UPMC refused, saying the drug was not part of the hospital’s Covid protocol. Darla drove to the pharmacy to pick it up anyway.
The day after Keith was admitted, the hospital called Darla at home to let her know her husband’s oxygen had plummeted. “They wanted to intubate him. He said, ‘call my wife. It’s a joint decision,’” Darla recalled in an interview with York Daily Record.
A staff worker let the couple use his phone to video the chat and exchange private words before sedating Keith and putting him on the ventilator. Knowing this might be a final goodbye was devastating to both.
“I prayed. I called my parents and we all prayed,” Darla said. “I went to the hospital that Sunday and had my first contact with the pulmonologist. He handed me a paper with approved treatments. At the bottom of the page it lists the unproven drugs they don’t use. Ivermectin is first on the list.”
That night Darla saw an article about a patient in Illinois that NY attorney Ralph Lorigo had helped get access to ivermectin. She contacted the lawyer and working late into the night, Lorigo filed the Smith case on Nov. 25, right before the legal holiday weekend.
It was not until Nov. 29 that the case was heard.
The Delay Was Agony
“The judge took four days to come up with his order,” Darla Smith later wrote. “The delay was agony. I was so scared my husband was not going to make it. I had signed a waiver that removes any liability associated with ivermectin, but the hospital was still fighting us.”
York County Court Judge Clyde Vedder ruled that the hospital did not have to administer the drug to Smith, but it must allow a doctor or registered nurse to give him ivermectin, under the guidance of the doctor who initially prescribed the treatment, the Epoch Times reported.
Darla and a nurse willing to administer the drug put on PPE, went into Keith’s room Monday and told him they were going to administer the ivermectin. Still sedated, there was no sign he heard them. The nurse and Darla prayed. Then the drug was crushed, mixed with liquid, and poured into his feeding tube.
Keith Smith’s condition deteriorated after he was given two doses of ivermectin, leading doctors to insist on stopping the medication, according to the York Daily Record. He passed away several days after that.
Darla believes the lengthy process of obtaining the court order fatally delayed her husband’s opportunity for treatment by nine days. Frantic over the delay, she told the paper, she had contemplated administering it to her husband herself.
“I could have given him the drug on the sly,” she said, describing how she could have prepared the medication “in a sterilized cup and sneaked it into the hospital.”
“In the end, I didn’t do it. I waited for the court order, a nine-day delay from the date I picked up the script in Paoli. And that will forever be a cloak of guilt that covers me in shame.”
Doctor Sues Hospital on Behalf of Patients
Among the ivermectin lawsuits that have been brought across the country in the past year, one is particularly noteworthy. It was brought not by a family member on behalf of a loved one but by a doctor on behalf of his patients and fellow doctors.
Dr. Paul Marik, one of the most highly published critical care physicians in the world and the Director of the ICU at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, filed a lawsuit against Sentara Hospital in November.
His suit protested the hospital’s new policy of banning a group of FDA-approved drugs for Covid treatment that Dr. Marik and other physicians have been using to save lives throughout the pandemic. The drugs include ivermectin among at least eight others.
Physicians’ records show that Marik’s Covid-19 drug protocols, published on the website of FLCCC (Frontline Covid-19 Critical Care), an organization he co-founded with Dr. Pierre Kory and Dr. Fred Wagshul, have been widely used across the country and throughout the world.
According to the organization’s published data, the protocols have been successful in reducing Covid deaths in the ICU by significant numbers. The FLCCC also publishes articles and research from other countries showing ivermectin’s effectiveness in treating Covid.
Asked by reporters why he believes ivermectin saves lives, Marik spoke of the last time he was in the Sentara Healthcare ICU.
“On that day, Oct. 25, I had seven patients with Covid-19 pneumonia. Six are now dead. Another is in tough condition… I’m not saying I could have reversed the death of all six of them, but at least give me the opportunity to treat them with every tool in the toolbox to prevent them dying,” he said.
Doctor-Patient Relationship in Jeopardy
Marik argues ivermectin is used all over the world for Covid-19 treatment, just not in America. But he says the issue is deeper than ivermectin. “It’s about doctor-patient relationships, about the bedside doctor being able to do what doctors have been doing for decades, and what doctors do across the world.”
“Doctors decide what is the best treatment for their patients, and they alone are responsible for the patient and the treatment of the patient,” he asserted. Referring to the drugs newly banned by Sentara, “they are safe off-label drugs that they are prohibiting me from using,” he said.
The result of the prohibition has already been a sharp increase in patient mortality, Marik fears.
A spokesman for Sentara Healthcare sees things differently. In an email, the hospital claimed to be following “evidenced-based protocols as recommended by trusted agencies including CDC, NIH, and FDA. All of these agencies currently do not recommend the use of ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19 due to a lack of evidence regarding its safety and efficacy.”
Asked about Sentara’s rationale, Marik answered: “So, yes that is true. The NIH doesn’t recommend these drugs, but if you look at the actual statement, these are guidelines and not rules, and the physician needs to use his clinical judgment on how to treat his patients.”
Norfolk Circuit Court Judge David Lanetti denied Dr. Marik’s request for an injunction, and to immediately be given the right to prescribe ivermectin to his hospital patients. However, Dr. Marik’s attorney, Fred Taylor, told The Virginian Pilot the case will still move forward to trial.
“While we are disappointed that the Court did not grant the temporary injunction, our case for the rights of doctors and their patients remains alive and well,” Taylor said. “We expect to ultimately succeed on the merits of our case at trial.”