A Libertyville hospital that was ordered to let a COVID-19 patient receive the controversial medication ivermectin fought back in court Tuesday, saying the woman’s heart rate plunged after she received a “mega dose” of the drug, and that further use could lead to more health problems.
The woman’s attorneys disputed that, saying the staff at Advocate Condell Medical Center had misinterpreted the prescription order and that medical records had not substantiated the pulse drop. The woman, they said, is actually responding well to the treatment.
The argument will carry over into Wednesday — DuPage County Judge Anne Hayes set another hearing to give the woman’s lawyers time to formally dispute the hospital’s claims — but it marks yet another dramatic turn in the ivermectin saga.
Ivermectin is typically used to treat diseases caused by parasitic worms, but some have hailed it as a COVID-19 cure despite a lack of definitive scientific proof. While dozens of clinical trials are still underway, the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous medical authorities have advised against using it for COVID cases.
Hospitals are reluctant to provide the drug, which has prompted some determined patients and their families to turn to the courts.
In May, another DuPage County judge ordered Elmhurst Hospital to allow a comatose patient to receive ivermectin after none of its physicians agreed to administer it. The woman’s daughter said she improved and ultimately returned home after an outside doctor gave her the drugs.
A Springfield judge reached a different conclusion last month, ruling against a woman seeking to force Memorial Medical Center to provide ivermectin to her 61-year-old husband, who reportedly had been hospitalized with COVID-19 for nearly six weeks.
Some have resorted to more extreme measures. Earlier this month, friends and supporters of Veronica Wolski, known for mounting banners supporting QAnon on a walkway over the Kennedy Expressway, besieged Chicago’s Amita Health Resurrection Medical Center with hundreds of calls and emails demanding that Wolski, who was hospitalized with COVID-related pneumonia, be given ivermectin.
The hospital said it did not does not use ivermectin to treat COVID. Wolski died Sept. 13.
In the latest DuPage case, court documents show a winding road that led Leslie Pai, a 68-year-old photographer, to Advocate Condell’s intensive care unit.
According to the lawsuit, Pai entered NorthShore Glenbrook Hospital with COVID-19 symptoms on Aug. 31. She was already taking ivermectin as a preventive measure and brought some to the hospital, but according to the complaint, officials there threw it out, saying it was not allowed in the facility.
The staff at NorthShore Glenbrook wouldn’t budge in their opposition to ivermectin, the complaint says, so on Sept. 11 Tiffany Wilson had her mother transferred to Advocate Condell, where she was placed on a ventilator and put into a medical coma.
Advocate Condell doctors weren’t willing to give her ivermectin, either, according to the complaint, so Wilson filed suit in DuPage County, home of the hospital’s parent company. On Friday, Hayes granted a temporary injunction allowing an outside physician, Dr. Alan Bain, to give her the drug.
But according to affidavits filed in court by Advocate Condell doctors, Pai did not do well. Dr. Harvey Friedman, a pulmonologist, wrote that after one dose, her heart rate dropped to 28 beats per minute, requiring the ICU staff to give her norepinephrine.
“In my expert medical opinion … without the intervention of Advocate Condell Medical Center ICU staff, Ms. Pai was at risk of heart failure, stroke, death and other significant harm,” he wrote.
Dr. Dipul Patadia, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said Pai endured a depressed heart rate again after another dose of the drug, prompting one more norepinephrine treatment. He wrote in his affidavit that “there is distress with the treatment team regarding the use of ivermectin by Ms. Pai and the lasting physical consequences that it will have on her.”
Advocate attorney Joseph Monahan amplified that point during Tuesday’s hearing, saying “the medical team is absolutely horrified and uncomfortable, as it says in the affidavit. They are distressed by an outside doctor coming in and giving this medication.”
Bain, who has been involved in other ivermectin cases, could not be reached for comment.
The hospital’s lawyers said Pai had received a “mega dose” of the drug, but Jon Minear, one of Pai’s attorneys, said doctors misunderstood the dosage Bain prescribed. He added that her medical records do not substantiate the pulse drop and that her condition has improved, allowing her to spend less time in a prone position.
Wilson could not be reached for comment, but in an affidavit said her research into ivermectin led her to believe its risks are “infinitesimally small,” and that it offers her mother an excellent chance at a full recovery.
An Advocate spokesperson, while expressing sympathy for Pai and her family, said hospital officials “do not support or recommend the administration of ivermectin for treatment of COVID-19. We stand with our care team in recommending other proven courses of treatment which have worked safely and effectively for thousands of patients.”
Hayes issued a stay of her injunction to allow Pai’s attorneys a chance to respond to the hospital’s assertions. The next hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon.
PHOTOS: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright