In October 2021, a man was hospitalized in a healthcare center after having tested positive for Covid-19. His nephew, who held health care power of attorney for his uncle, turned to a different doctor for a second opinion on the treatments to be administered to his uncle and received a prescription for Ivermectin, a medication for parasitic diseases which such doctor – like others in the USA – asserted was effective against Covid-19.

However, the health care center declined to effectuate such prescription noting that Ivermectin (i) was primarily used as an anti-parasitic in farm animals or administered to humans for treatment of certain parasites and scabies; and (ii) was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for Covid-19. Furthermore, the facility’s Chief Medical Officer highlighted that a high dose of that medication – such as the one prescribed by the doctor – could be very dangerous for humans so that it did not meet the standard of care for treatment.

In reply to the facility’s refusal to administer the medication to his uncle, the nephew filed suit seeking an order requiring the center to do so. While the first instance judge upheld the nephew’s request and ordered the healthcare center to administer the Ivermectin to the plaintiff’s uncle, the appellate court stayed such order and reversed the first instance judge’s findings claiming that the circuit court had failed to indicate any statutory basis for such order.

By decision of 2 May 2023, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed the decision issued by the appellate judge. The Court noted that the first instance court had merely stated that it had “a significant respect for an individual’s right to choose their treatment” but did not refer to any law or other legal basis on which the order to administer the Ivermectin was based. Accordingly, it found that the first instance court had no legal authority to compel the healthcare center to provide its patient treatment that was below the standard of care.

Reference: Ghal v. Aurora Health Care, Supreme Court of Wisconsin, 2 May 2023.

Opinion on the case available at en