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Family sues anti-vax body, doctor, over hydroxychloroquine death

The family of a US man who died in 2022 after taking hydroxychloroquine, prescribed by a physician with the controversial anti-vaccine group America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS), has launched a wrongful death lawsuit against both the group and the doctor.

Jeremy Parker had a telehealth appointment through AFLDS in August 2021, wanting hydroxychloroquine, which he falsely believed could prevent or treat Covid-19, though he didn’t have any symptoms at the time.

According to the lawsuit, he had spoken to Dr Medina Culver, who wrote him a prescription.

In early February 2022, when he began having cold-like symptoms, he took the drug – and was found dead the next morning.

The Intercept reports that the cause, according to his death certificate, was “sudden death in the setting of therapeutic use of hydroxychloroquine”.

Parker’s wife, Jelena Hatfield, and their three children sued AFLDS and Culver a year later, claiming his death was caused by the negligence of Culver “and falsehoods spread by America’s Frontline Doctors”.

The wrongful death lawsuit claims that Culver never performed a physical examination of Parker, nor did she run any diagnostic tests to ensure the drug would be safe to prescribe.

AFLDS records, provided to The Intercept by an anonymous hacker in September 2021, corroborate parts of Hatfield’s account. Culver is included in the list of 225 AFLDS physicians who prescribed disproven Covid-19 drugs, and consultation notes from Parker’s telehealth appointment confirm no physical examination took place.

While the hacked data – hundreds of thousands of medical and prescription records from AFLDS’s telehealth partners – include lists of physicians and patients, they do not link physicians to specific patients.

In a court filing responding to Hatfield’s lawsuit, AFLDS described itself as “a civil liberties organisation with a purpose of providing Americans with independent information regarding healthcare from experts in medicine and law”, and “is not a medical organisation that consults with patients, provides diagnosis, or prescribes treatment”.

In short, AFLDS denied prescribing hydroxychloroquine to Parker, claiming it only provided him with medical information and opinions, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Culver and AFLDS did not respond to a request for comment.

In June, a judge denied both of their efforts to get the lawsuit thrown out. Culver then filed an emergency petition asking Nevada’s Supreme Court to challenge the denial, but a judge denied that petition as well on 4 August.

Dr Jonathan Howard, an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at NYU Langone Health and the chief of neurology at Bellevue Hospital, told The Intercept the biggest issue is that a doctor prescribed hydroxychloroquine to Parker for Covid-19 at all, since the medication had been shown to be ineffective at treating the virus.

Howard also pointed out the the consultation notes don’t mention any discussion about the risks and benefits. “Any small risk posed by the medication outweighed the benefits,” Howard wrote, “which were zero.”

Hydroxychloroquine is commonly used to treat malaria and lupus, but it has “not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing Covid-19,” according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Well into the Covid-19 pandemic, AFLDS – as well as Donald Trump – falsely promoted the drug as an alternative to vaccines, despite the fact that by mid-2020, the FDA revoked its emergency use authorisation and warned against using it to treat Covid-19 “due to risk of heart rhythm problems”. (Parker’s autopsy revealed a small abnormality in his heart, The Washington Post reported.)

In 2021, The Intercept revealed that AFLDS and its network of healthcare providers charged patients at least $6.7m— though possible much more – for telehealth appointments.

The investigation also showed that the online pharmacy that filled Parker’s hydroxychloroquine prescription charged patients at least $8.6m for similar ineffective Covid-19 drugs.

Patient records

The attached notes to Parker’s records include almost no information about the man’s health history, saying he had been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid and had no symptoms himself, but had requested hydroxychloroquine.

The lawsuit, filed in Nevada, accuses Culver and AFLDS of wrongful death and professional negligence and seeks money damages. It includes a declaration from Bruce Bannister, a medical doctor and volunteer faculty member with the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.

Bannister wrote that Parker should not have been prescribed hydroxychloroquine without an examination to determine that it would be safe. If a physical exam weren’t possible because it was a remote visit, Bannister noted, the doctor should have at least obtained an electrocardiogram … to ensure there were no heart abnormalities.

And if none of these resources was available, the doctor should have told the patient to seek care where they were available.

Bannister concluded “to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that his ingestion of hydroxychloroquine caused the death”.

 

The Intercept article – Hacked records corroborate claims in hydroxychloroquine wrongful death suit (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

WHO expert panel strongly advises against use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19

 

Hydroxychloroquine fails to prevent COVID-19 in health care workers — US/Canada trial

 

US anti-vax doctor starts prison sentence for Capital Riots break-in

 

US anti-vax doctor’s licence in the balance

 

 

 

 

 

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