Montana's attorney general went rogue and sent a state trooper into a hospital after doctors refused to give a COVID-19 patient ivermectin, official says
A Montana state trooper showed up when doctors refused to treat an 82-year-old COVID-19 patient with ivermectin earlier this month, the hospital told local media outlets.
A county official told Insider the state's attorney general didn't have the authority to send the state trooper to the dispute.
Montana Democrats are now pushing for an investigation into the attorney general's decision.
When a Montana hospital refused to treat an 82-year-old COVID-19 patient with the drug ivermectin earlier this month, a state trooper showed up and doctors got "harassed and threatened" by three different public officials, the hospital told local media outlets.
A county official told Insider that the Montana Highway Patrol trooper had been dispatched by the state's attorney general - who the official said had no authority to do so.
The patient at the center of the dispute had been admitted to St. Peter's Health in Helena in mid-October, and was put on a treatment plan that was "not working," according to a Facebook post from the Montana Federation of Republican Women.
The post added that the patient requested a prescription for ivermectin, but was denied by the hospital. When she obtained a prescription from an outside doctor, the hospital told her she would have to check out if she wanted to take it, the post said.
Both the CDC and the FDA have issued advisories in recent months warning against using ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Though the drug is an FDA-approved prescription medication, it is typically used to treat infections caused by parasitic worms - not viruses.
Insider was unable to reach the patient, or several associates of the patient, for comment.
The hospital told the Montana Billings Gazette in a statement that amid the dispute, three public officials contacted doctors about their treatment. The hospital did not name the officials.
"These conversations were deeply troubling to our physicians and staff because they were threatened and their clinical judgment was called into question by these individuals," a hospital spokesperson said.
Leo Gallagher, the Lewis and Clark County attorney, said in a statement to Insider that he had not approved the trooper's visit, and never received an incident report from the Montana Highway Patrol. He said he first learned of the incident when his staff received a late-night call from the trooper on October 12.
"I advised the Trooper via my Deputy, I saw no crime that needed investigating and my office would not prosecute any charge brought to my office regarding the investigation," Gallagher said.
But a spokesman for the attorney general's office, Kyler Nerison, said Gallagher had no authority over the Montana Highway Patrol and "would not have received an incident report." When contacted about the incident report, however, the Montana Highway Patrol referred Insider to Gallagher's office.
Gallagher pointed to state law that grants the attorney general "limited jurisdiction" to investigate crimes related to medical facilities, but only if it's at the request of the Department of Public Health and Human Services or a local law enforcement agency.
Nerison disputed this, citing a law that gives the state's medicaid fraud control unit the authority to "review any complaint of patient abuse, patient neglect, and misappropriation of patient property."
Gallagher, in turn, rejected Nerison's comments, telling Insider that the state's medicaid fraud control unit "is by administrative rule separate and apart from the Highway Patrol."
Now, Montana Democrats have pushed for an investigation into the attorney general's actions.
"Serious allegations have been made by St. Peter's Hospital," Senate President Mark Blasdel said, according to the Associated Press. He added that he and House Speaker Wylie Galt had authorized the Legislature's special counsel "to examine any relevant government records in accordance with the law.
Nerison condemned the lawmakers' rush to judgment in a statement.
"Not a single Montana Democrat legislator reached out to our agency with any questions about the incident before this partisan political stunt," Nerison said. "As we've said from the beginning, no one was threatened or had their clinical judgment questioned while the Department of Justice was trying to get to the bottom of the allegations made against the hospital."
Nerison also previously told the Helena Independent Record that the trooper had not been investigating the hospital's refusal to provide ivermectin. Nerison said the trooper had been investigating the patient's family's allegations that the hospital refused to allow her to communicate with relatives and did not deliver legal documents to her.
"The Attorney General's Office received a report from a family that said St. Peter's Hospital was violating their relative's rights by refusing to allow her to receive prescribed medications, not delivering legal documents, not allowing them to see their relative, and at one point, even cutting off text message communication between them and their family member," he told the Montana Billings Gazette.
St. Peter's Health denied those claims, and told the newspaper in a statement that the officials had been "insisting our providers give treatments for COVID-19 that are not authorized, clinically approved, or within the guidelines established by the FDA and the CDC.
"In addition, they threatened to use their position of power to force our doctors and nurses to provide this care," the hospital's statement continued.
Read the original article on Insider