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"Hero" Judge Holds Hospital in Contempt: Give Ivermectin to a Dying Woman, or Pay a $10,000-a-Day Fine
A hospital outside Washington, D.C., wouldn't give a 63-year-old woman the safe, FDA-approved drug shown highly effective against covid even after nothing else worked and her death was almost certain.
A sixty-three-year-old woman teeters between life and death in a Virginia hospital that has been forced, after a brutal court fight, to give her a safe, FDA-approved drug that her doctor had prescribed: ivermectin.
Whether it’s too late is the question. Kathleen Davies’ first dose was given in Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton, Virginia, about fifty miles west of Washington, D.C., on the evening of Monday, December 13. That was sixty-five days after admission; forty-one days after going on a ventilator; six days after a judge’s order to administer it, and fifteen minutes before $10,000-a-day fines would have kicked in for defying it.
The logjam broke Monday when Circuit Court Judge James P. Fisher laid down the law after a testy hearing. In a decision written as attorneys waited online, Fisher ruled the hospital was “in contempt for needlessly interposing requirements that stand in the way” of ivermectin and for violating statutes under federal and state of Virginia right-to-try laws.
The hospital’s “failure to accommodate this critical patient’s health care wishes”—as the judge had ordered on December 7—is “is particularly egregious,” he wrote.
A day after the nail-biting experience, Davies’ attorney, Ralph Lorigo, said, “This judge is the hero. He had the guts. He had the stamina. He had the willingness to enforce what he said.”
Lorigo, a Buffalo, New York, lawyer for four decades, has pioneered an entirely new legal practice dedicated to securing ivermectin for patients for whom other covid treatments have failed. Last month, a seventy-one-year-old man, given a 10 to 15 percent chance of survival, received five days of court-ordered ivermectin. He pulled out his endotracheal tube within five days and left the hospital two weeks later.
While many—not all—of Lorigo’s clients have rallied, Mrs. Davies’ future is uncertain. She’ll be receiving 24 mg per day for ten days of ivermectin, which has saved many people who were near death on ventilators. But Davies is facing a tough challenge. “This woman is today forty-two days on a vent,” he said. “She needs everyone’s prayers.”
It may be tempting to blame the hospital for callous indifference to a therapy that research shows could save lives. But the experience of the Davies family is painfully illustrative of broader failures of American covid care.
Weeks before the entire Davies household contracted covid—Mrs. Davies’ husband, Donald, sixty-six; daughter Grace, twenty-one; and son Christopher, thirty-nine—the family embarked on an effort to secure ivermectin. The intention, Christopher Davies told me, was to take it “as a kind of shield” against infection.
“We were actively trying to get ivermectin,” he said. “You try to find a doctor. You get pushback. You try to find a pharmacy, you get pushback. It’s so hard to get it.”
By the time a doctor and an independent pharmacy came through, the infection had entered the home and spread through the family. Mr. and Mrs. Davies were able to finish just two days of the ivermectin prescription before their condition grew dire. 911 was called for both.
“It was kind of a dramatic day,” Christopher Davies told me. “When it came to the morning of October 9, dad was so sick, he could not get out of bed.” His mother’s blood oxygen level, which should have been in the high nineties, was in the low eighties.
“What do they tell you? Stay home, quarantine, and let your body work it out,” Davies said. “Some people like my parents can’t do that.”
Donald Davies, a retired defense contractor, spent seven weeks in Fauquier Hospital, where Christopher, incidentally, works as an X-ray technician. He is now on medical leave to care for his father, who was discharged just two weeks ago.
I told him of my article on an Indian family that was given ivermectin kits, sparing them in a raging outbreak in Uttar Pradesh last spring. “Isn’t it funny how a less developed country,” he said, “seems to have a more proactive role in treating this pandemic than the USA.”
In court papers, Mrs. Davies’ condition is described as bleak. While she was given the standard hospital protocol—including remdesivir, steroids, and antibiotics—her condition worsened from October 9 to November 3, when she was sedated and intubated.
The initial complaint, filed on December 3, states:
“Defendant has exhausted its COVID-19 treatment protocol, and has no further treatment options for Mrs. Davies. Her situation is truly ‘wait and see.’ As a 63-year-old female placed on a ventilator, Mrs. Davies’ chances of survival have dropped to less than 30%.”
With nothing more being offered by the hospital, Mrs. Davies’ husband, who is her health care proxy, sought ivermectin. He agreed to waive all hospital liability in providing the drug to his wife.
But in what is a familiar response to such cases across the country, the hospital fought back, resisting even after the judge granted the request on December 7. Arguments ensued on the language of the order, how it would be carried out, and who would administer the drug.
“They dragged their feet while my mom’s life was hanging in the balance,” Christopher Davies said.
On December 13, the judge gave little room for argument when he threatened to fine the hospital $10,000 for every day it refused to carry out his dictate.
Ralph Lorigo credits the judge’s courage, having seen many attempts by hospital systems to deter courts from interfering in the practice of medicine.
“In these cases, they intimidate these judges,” Lorigo said. “You don’t wear white coats. You wear black robes. The doctors can only make the decisions.”
The judge heard a different version of Mrs. Davies’ case.
She is a woman, the complaint asserted, “on death’s doorstep; there is no further COVID-19 treatment protocol.”
[The defendants], on the other hand, it stated, “have breached their collective obligation and oath to ‘do no harm’ as it relates to defendant’s unjustified refusal to administer medical and pharmaceutical therapy to Mrs. Davies in an effort to save her life…”
Kathleen Davies initially did not want to go to a hospital, her son told me. “She was not really trusting of the health care system.”
Perhaps rightfully so.
Mary Beth Pfeiffer’s reporting and most recent book, LYME: The First Epidemic of Climate Change, led her to covid-19. Both diseases have been denied and mismanaged in a corrupt health care system. LYME was just released in paperback.