If the correct legal papers are “squared away,” Nutt said he would be willing to hold a hearing to explore why Drock, who is in the intensive care unit tethered to oxygen, might benefit from ivermectin. The parasite-fighting drug hasn’t been approved for use to treat patients with COVID-19.
The latest order, issued late Tuesday, came three days after Nutt ruled that attorneys for Drock’s husband didn’t use the correct legal procedure and asked them to amend their lawsuit.
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Attorney Jake Huxtable responded by asking Nutt to reconsider his decision.
“The court’s understanding of the issue and relief requested is incorrect and utterly misguided, respectfully,” he wrote in a motion filed Monday.
Nutt, however, refused to change his mind.
The petition Huxtable filed is to be used to quickly resolve disputes over the use of life-sustaining medical procedures, such as feeding tubes. It doesn’t give patients the right to ask a judge to overturn doctors’ medical judgment, Nutt said.
“It is not a right to demand a particular treatment. It is not a right to substitute one’s judgment as to which treatments must (be) made available by others,” he wrote.
“There is no right, constitutional or otherwise, of a patient to substitute one’s judgment for a medical professional.”
If Huxtable instead files the correct petition, Nutt said he would consider it.
But, he warned that, too, could fail.
“On its face, the (husband) neither asks for nor pleads the necessary elements of a temporary injunction,” he wrote, referring to the other legal option that is available.
Huxtable didn’t respond to a request for comment on what action he would take.
He has insisted that Ryan Drock, as his wife’s legal representative, has the constitutional right to accept the advice of another doctor, who has agreed to administer ivermectin to the unvaccinated woman, a mother of two.
Dr. Bruce Boros, a retired Key Largo cardiologist, has written a prescription for ivermectin for the Egret Lake Elementary School teacher, Huxtable said in court papers.
However, Boros doesn’t have privileges at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, which is owned by Tenet Healthcare. Further, the drug hasn’t been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19.
Doctors have said that asking judges to decide appropriate medical treatment sets a dangerous precedent.
At a hearing Friday, Nutt seemed to agree.
“So every drug combination cocktail or procedure that is debated as to its efficacy ... the hospital is going to be taken to court?” he asked. “It’s problematic where this is going.”
But, Huxtable countered, after he filed the lawsuit on Oct. 1, hospital officials agreed to give Drock ivermectin. But they wanted to give her a lower dose than is recommended to treat people with parasites, he said.
Huxtable suggested that Nutt could order the medical center to give Drock a higher dose.
Nutt again said he wasn’t sure a judge should make a decision that clearly requires medical expertise.
“It’s been reduced to the court determining a dosage?” Nutt said. “Do you realize how drilled down this has become?”
Huxtable emphasized that Drock’s condition is grave and no other options are available.
“The patient is on death’s doorstep; there is no further COVID-19 treatment protocol for (the hospital) to administer to the patient,” he wrote.
Ryan Drock, he said, “is doing everything he can to give his wife a chance of survival.”
No studies have shown that ivermectin is effective in treating COVID-19, according to the FDA. But, after initial small nonclinical studies showed it held some promise, it was seized on by some groups, who pushed for its use.
A version of it, not approved for human use, is used to treat worms in livestock. The buzz around ivermectin and reports that it was flying off the shelves of farm stores prompted the FDA to appeal to people not to use the animal version, which can be deadly to humans.
Nutt isn’t the first judge to be asked to countermand a doctor’s orders. Similar court battles have played out around the country in recent weeks.
A Buffalo, New York, law firm has handled most of them with the help of local attorneys, including Huxtable.
Judges in Delaware, New York and Ohio have refused to order hospitals to administer the medication.
In addition to saying that it hasn’t proven to be effective, judges have ruled that patients have no right to demand treatment that isn’t considered part of the standard of care.
However, a judge in Duval County last month ordered a Jacksonville hospital to give a critically ill COVID-19 patient ivermectin.
In his decision, Circuit Judge Bruce Anderson wrote that failure to administer ivermectin could cause “irreparable harm” to the patient. The potential harm outweighed any possible damage to the hospital.
Anderson ordered the Jacksonville hospital to give Boros emergency privileges so he could give the drug to a critically ill woman. Her husband had requested it.
In another Palm Beach County case, Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes asked the wife of Jupiter resident Glenn Stephanos and Bethesda East Hospital in Boynton Beach to hash out an accord.
They did, and the 65-year-old Stephanos was given ivermectin, attorneys representing his wife said.