Wisconsin Health News
December 12, 2022
Two doctors’ groups filed a brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week arguing that courts shouldn’t compel physicians to provide the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 intervention.
The American Medical Association and Wisconsin Medical Society asked that the court uphold an appeals court ruling earlier this year that found no legal authority to compel private healthcare providers to administer treatments that they have determined are below the standard of care.
The ruling came in a case brought by Allen Gahl, whose uncle was placed on a ventilator in October 2021 while hospitalized at Aurora Medical Center-Summit with COVID-19.
Gahl obtained a prescription for ivermectin for his uncle, but the hospital staff declined to provide it after deeming the medication below the standard of care. Gahl sued, which led a Waukesha County Court to initially order that the hospital provide his uncle with the drug.
The hospital appealed, and the Waukesha County judge later revised his order to require that the healthcare facility let Gahl find a doctor outside the hospital to administer ivermectin to his uncle. However, an appeals court put a hold on that order.
In their brief, the American Medical Association and Wisconsin Medical Society wrote that most studies investigating ivermectin haven’t found it to be an effective COVID-19 treatment. The consensus view is, apart from clinical trials, it shouldn’t be used to treat the illness, they noted.
They wrote that the hospital met its legal and ethical duties by treating the patient with an “evidence-based protocol” that did not include the drug and that the Wisconsin Supreme Court should affirm the court of appeals' ruling.
"Holding otherwise would allow courts to compel treatments that the medical consensus finds to be substandard,” they wrote. “That outcome forces Wisconsin's physicians to choose between the law and their ethical duties, potentially exposing patients to harm and physicians to liability.” The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in September, with the plaintiff in the case arguing that the appeals court acted in error and that its decision “left a wake of confusion with citizens regarding the right to request to receive ivermectin.”