Physicians’ professional liability has been heightened by both the pandemic and the significant disinformation and politicization surrounding vaccines and various unsafe treatment and prevention methods
Physicians’ professional liability has been heightened by both the pandemic and the significant disinformation and politicization surrounding vaccines and various unsafe treatment and prevention methods. In part six of our look at malpractice risk and asset protection for doctors, we put the abstract concepts discussed so far into the current context of COVID-19.
News reports across the country are rife with details of the use and results of Ivermectin and several other treatment and preventative measures not supported by current science. Of these questionable alternatives to the proven value of, for instance, vaccinations and monoclonal antibodies, Ivermectin prescriptions and self-medication appear to the most widely used, tracked, and politicized.
Off-label prescribing has a long history and is standard practice with some specific conditions and medications; that said, it is not without risk. According to a report in the Journal of the AAPL:
Physicians have been involved in several legal claims when prescribing or promoting medication for off-label use. This is especially true when off-label prescription is the cause of injury. In that case, a patient is likely to bring a case of medical malpractice against a physician under two legal premises: lack of informed consent and negligence.
The report goes on to how a patient may allege harm and raises the all-important “standard of care” issue.
When a patient alleges harm from an off-label use of a medication, it must be established that the prescribing physician deviated from the standard of acceptable practice. Because the FDA prohibits manufacturers from sponsoring physician education for off-label use of their medications, physicians may find it difficult to establish how others in their area of practice use medications outside the FDA-approved indications. Peer-reviewed, published evidence focusing on a drug’s off-label use and new standards of practice involving off-label use of the drug develop over time.
Despite explicit warnings against the use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 from the both the CDC and the FDA, prescriptions have soared from less than 4,000 a week to over 88,000 per week nationally. In some cases, physicians and pharmacies are specifically “promoting” (note this specific term of art) this an alternative and profitably capitalizing on the fears and politics of the anti-vaxx, anti-mask, and so-called “medical freedom movement”.
Given these explicit warnings, echoed by countless local and regional medical associations, and the large number of cases of Ivermectin poisoning presenting in ER rooms and poison control centers across the country, physicians should tread lightly and understand that the off-label prescribing of Ivermectin for COVID-19 may be exceptionally high-risk. Doing so is explicitly advised against by multiple medical authorities and is arguably below the standard of care that a defendant physician will likely be able to demonstrate in any legal proceeding.
In cases where the patient has self-prescribed and administered, with no input from the treating physician, that physician’s liability is still heightened by the fact that the patient may be suffering more acute COVID-19 symptoms due to a combination of being unvaccinated, having delayed proper medical care for their illness, and possibly suffering from the side effects of very significant additional Ivermectin related illness and side effects because they’ve taken veterinary formulations and dosages at toxic levels.
The CDC provides specific examples of what patients are doing, a partial list of the very serious symptoms of Ivermectin poisoning, including death, and a list of basics treating physicians and healthcare organizations should consider.
Advise patients to immediately seek medical treatment if they have taken any ivermectin or ivermectin-containing products and are experiencing symptoms.