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Bakersfield woman sues Adventist to force ivermectin COVID treatment

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Adventist Health Bakersfield hospital along Chester Avenue.

A local woman is suing Adventist Health to force the hospital to treat her husband with ivermectin, a medication for parasitic diseases that some have proposed as a treatment for COVID-19.

In a lawsuit filed in Kern County Superior Court, the plaintiff says her husband is sedated and on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at Adventist Health Bakersfield. She seeks a judge's order to force the hospital to provide treatment she claims has been prescribed by a doctor.

“(The husband) is literally on death's doorstep and there (are) no further COVID-19 treatment protocols for the Defendant Hospital to administer to him and (the plaintiff) does not want to see her husband die,” the lawsuit says. “She is doing everything she can to give him a chance to survive.”

The Californian is not publishing the patient and plaintiff’s names in order to protect the family’s medical privacy.

The lawsuit says Dr. See-Ruern Kitt prescribed ivermectin to the patient, but the hospital has not administered the treatment, claiming it is outside the hospital’s protocols and would not help.

Ivermectin, a medication approved to treat parasitic diseases in humans and animals, has risen to prominence as a proposed remedy for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports prescriptions for the drug have increased 24-fold since the beginning of the pandemic, reaching 88,000 per week by Aug. 13.

National health authorities say there is no conclusive evidence supporting claims ivermectin is an effective COVID-19 treatment.

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration openly warns against taking large doses of ivermectin due to the risk of serious side effects, including death. In July, poison control centers across the country reported a fivefold increase in calls related to the drug, according to the CDC.

The two national health authorities say the most effective method to prevent a coronavirus infection is to get vaccinated. Unlike ivermectin, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the FDA for preventing COVID-19, and it has issued emergency use authorizations for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Still, the plaintiff’s family appears to view ivermectin as a source of hope in an increasingly bleak situation. The lawsuit says all treatment administered thus far has failed to render improvement on the 66-year-old, who suffers from high blood pressure — a risk factor for COVID-19 complications — as well as high cholesterol and hyperthyroidism.

After “exhausting all options,” the lawsuit says, the husband’s condition worsened to a point where the medical staff advised the plaintiff and her children to visit the hospital to say goodbye.

The plaintiff has offered to sign a form releasing the hospital and its staff of liability for administering ivermectin, the lawsuit says.

Attorney Nathan Hodges, who is representing the family, did not return a request for comment on Thursday. Neither did Dr. Kitt. The plaintiff could not be reached for comment.

Adventist Health said in a statement it could not comment on the situation due to the litigation.

“Our hearts are with our patients and their loved ones who are fighting this devastating virus,” the statement said.

A case management conference took place in Bakersfield on Thursday. A second conference has been scheduled for next March, according to the court’s website.

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.