Butler County judge orders hospital to treat COVID patient with Ivermectin

Centerville physician prescribed controversial drug to Fairfield Twp. man in ICU.

A Fairfield Twp. woman who took UC Health West Chester Hospital to court, arguing her husband was “on death’s doorstep,” won an order compelling the hospital to give her husband the controversial drug Ivermectin.

Julie Smith, whose 51-year-old husband, Jeffrey Smith, was in the intensive care unit breathing only with aid of a ventilator, won the ruling from Butler County Common Pleas Judge J. Gregory Howard on Aug. 23.

Three days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an official health advisory, cautioning, “Ivermectin is not authorized or approved by FDA for prevention or treatment of COVID-19,” and stating that the National Institutes of Health have found insufficient data to recommend it for use against the disease.

The medication is mainly used for large animals, such as horses, sheep and cattle, and “can be highly concentrated and result in overdoses when used in humans,” the CDC wrote.

The drug’s manufacturer, Merck, in February announced there was “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March announced, “Ivermectin is often used in the U.S. to treat or prevent parasites in animals. The FDA has received multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with Ivermectin intended for horses.”

The FDA said Ivermectin tablets are approved for humans at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, also and there are approved formulations that can be used on the skin, not internally, for people suffering from head lice or skin conditions like rosacea.

Julie Smith, whose lawsuit said Jeffrey’s chances of survival had dropped to less than 30%, had a prescription from Dr. Fred Wagshul of Centerville for her husband. Her complaint noted her lawsuit did not seek monetary damages. Instead, “it simply relates to the enforcement of her guardianship decision of a reasonable course of treatment for Jeffrey and the enforcement of his physician’s order and prescription.”

“West Chester Hospital shall immediately administer Ivermectin to Jeffrey Smith in accordance with Dr. Fred Wagshul’s prescription, namely 30 mg of Ivermectin daily for 21 days,” Howard ordered on Aug. 23.

According to the complaint, Jeffrey tested positive July 9 for COVID-19. On July 15, after excessive coughing, with his oxygen saturation dropping dangerously low, he was admitted to the hospital. He was moved to the ICU later that day.

The hospital “treated Jeffrey with its Covid-19 protocol, which consisted of Remdesivir, plasma, and steroids,” the lawsuit states.

On July 27, after a period of “relative stability,” his condition started to decline, his oxygen levels dropping and his condition unstable. From July 28 through July 31, Jeffrey was prone all night on his stomach and flipped on his back during the day, a treatment that works for some, but his condition continued to decline. He was placed on a ventilator Aug. 1.

Two days later, there was a Code Blue, after the sedation drug ran out, allowing Jeffrey to wake up, rip the air tube from his esophagus, disturbing his feeding tube, allowing food particles and toxins to escape into his lungs, the lawsuit states.

With her husband “on death’s doorstep,” according to the lawsuit, the hospital “has exhausted its course of treatment and COVID-19 protocol in treating Jeffrey, which is unacceptable to Ms. Smith.”

The hospital refused to administer Ivermectin after she offered to sign a liability release for the hospital and those working there. She sought the advice of Dr. Waghsul, whom the lawsuit called “one of the foremost experts on using Ivermectin in treating Covid-19 and a founding member of the Frontline Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance; he supports the use of Ivermectin to treat Jeffrey, and prescribed Ivermectin to him.”

One of the lawyers representing Smith was Ralph C. Lorigo of West Senica, New York. Because Lorigo was not an Ohio attorney, Jeffrey Stagnaro, a Cincinnati lawyer, agreed to work with him.

Dr. Wagshul, a pulmonologist, has a practice with Lung Center of America. He’s also listed as a founding doctor in the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, a non-profit organization founded in March 2020 that offers “prevention & treatment protocols for COVID-19. A call to his Lung Center office was not returned before deadline.

UC Health spokeswoman Amanda Nageleisen said she cannot comment on litigation, and federal “patient privacy laws prevent me from commenting on any specifics of patient care.”

About the Author