Judge denies Louisville woman's request for Norton to treat her husband with ivermectin

Mary Ramsey
Louisville Courier Journal

A Jefferson County Circuit Court judge denied Wednesday a request to make doctors at Norton Brownsboro Hospital treat a COVID-19 patient with the drug ivermectin.

Angela Underwood, who according to court records is representing herself in the case, filed a suit Sept. 9 in Jefferson County Circuit Court attempting to compel doctors treating her husband, Lonnie Underwood, for COVID-19 to give him the drug.

Ivermectin is primarily used to treat parasites in livestock and is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for COVID-19. Despite this, it has been promoted as a treatment by some prominent conservatives, including former President Donald Trump.

"As a Registered Nurse, I demand my husband be administered ivermectin whether by a Norton physician or another healthcare provider of my choosing including myself if necessary," Underwood wrote in her complaint, which was later amended to request her husband be treated with "intravenous vitamin c."

"I am his healthcare advocate. The studies and research does show the effectiveness of the medication when given to those patients in the trial."

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Underwood also claimed the hospital would not allow a doctor to see her husband, despite the doctor writing an emergency privileges order to give the man ivermectin.

But Jefferson Circuit Judge Charles Cunningham wrote in his Wednesday ruling that the hospital said the doctor "refused to come see his patient," and the judge said the court "cannot require a hospital to literally take orders from someone who does not routinely issue such orders."

Staff at that doctor's office said the woman's doctor did not currently have privileges at a hospital "providing care for critically ill COVID patients," Cunningham wrote.

"Frankly, even a doctor who was in the trenches in 2020 fighting hand-to-hand against the virus, is probably not up-to-date with what works and what fails in late 2021 because the virus has mutated and our responses and therapies have evolved with it," Cunningham wrote.

Cunningham added that Underwood could try to find a hospital that "believes in the efficacy of these therapies."

"This is impractical because it is likely that no such hospital in the United States, or certainly in this region, agrees with Plaintiff," Cunningham wrote. "Moreover, her husband's medical circumstances may make such a transfer unjustifiably risky."

The other option would be for Underwood to show the court via evidence that the ivermectin and vitamin C therapies "are relatively safe and efficacious" in order to have a court overrule "the hospital, its clinical staff and its associated committees," Cunningham said.

"That is a herculean task and one unlikely to be accomplished in a time-frame the family finds workable," Cunningham wrote, also saying the internet is "rife with the ramblings of persons who spout ill-conceived conclusions if not out-right falsehoods."

The judge concluded he is "deeply hopeful for Mr. Underwood’s recovery."

A Facebook profile that appears to belong to Angela Underwood posted on Sept. 14 an update on "Lonnie."

"[H]e’s still in the hospital on the ventilator fighting for his life," Underwood wrote in her post. "We need prayers for his recovery! Keep those prayers coming!! Thanks to everyone that has reached out. It’s very much appreciated."

Underwood did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for Norton Healthcare directed a Courier Journal reporter to the court ruling when asked for comment on the case.

Initially, Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman did order the hospital to treat Lonnie Underwood with ivermectin "if medically indicated and ordered by an appropriate physician," according to court records.

The same judge granted on Tuesday, court records show, an "emergency injunction to administer intravenous Vitamin C." The National Institutes of Health says on its website: "There is insufficient evidence for the Panel to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin C for the treatment of COVID-19 in critically ill patients."

Cunningham stepped in as the judge on the case due to McDonald-Burkman having a retrial of a double-homicide case and not being available to hear Norton's motion for the court to reconsider.

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Despite major medical groups and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioning against the use of ivermectin, use of it has spiked across the country as COVID-19 cases surge. The Kentucky Poison Control Center has said it has seen an increase in calls related to misuse of ivermectin.

The Louisville case is not the first of its kind. A similar case took place in Ohio, where a judge ruled a hospital that's part of the University of Cincinnati Health system can't be compelled to administer ivermectin.

Reporter Billy Kobin contributed to this story.

Mary Ramsey is a breaking news reporter for The Courier Journal. Reach her at mramsey@gannett.com, and follow her on Twitter @mcolleen1996. Support strong local journalism in our community by subscribing to The Courier Journal today.