A story circulating social media on Saturday — thanks to it being
picked up by Rolling Stone and Rachel Maddow — claimed that hospitals
in Oklahoma have been overwhelmed with people overdosing on horse
dewormer, leaving gunshot victims in the lurch.
The story on its face was absurd, yet multiple media outlets pushed the
claim, based on the word of a single doctor who gave an interview to
KFOR. That doctor, Jason McElyea, claimed that the emergency rooms in
Oklahoma “are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times
getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be
“All of their ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to
open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s
it,” McElyea added. “If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s
no ambulance to come to the call.”
That, combined with an unrelated quote about hospital capacity, formed
the basis of Rolling Stone’s article insisting people are ingesting
Ivermectin — a drug that has approved uses for humans and animals — at
such high rates they are overwhelming hospitals.
The only people who would believe that are journalists who learned
Ivermectin is a popular horse dewormer and wanted to run with the
narrative that people were taking that version of it to treat COVID-19.
The truth is that hospitals in Oklahoma are not overrun with people
taking horse dewormer. KFOR, Rolling Stone, and others had to add an
update to the story including a comment from the hospital Dr. McElyea
claimed was overwhelmed, since they couldn’t bother to check his
outlandish story prior to publishing.
Northeastern Health System-Sequoyah, a hospital in Oklahoma, released a statement debunking McElyea’s claims:
Although Dr. Jason McElyea is not an employee of NHS Sequoyah,
he is affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides
coverage for our emergency room.
With that said, Dr. McElyea has not worked at our Sallisaw
location in over 2 months.
NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications
related to taking ivermectin. This includes not treating any
patients for ivermectin overdose.
All patients who have visited our emergency room have received
medical attention as appropriate. Our hospital has not had to
turn away any patients seeking emergency care.
We want to reassure our community that our staff is working
hard to provide quality healthcare to all patients. We
appreciate the opportunity to clarify this issue and as
always, we value our community’s support.
Stephanie Six, hospital administrator at NHS Sequoyah, told KXMX that
the hospital had “not seen or had any patients in our ER or hospital
with ivermectin overdose” nor did it have “any patients with complaints
or issues related to ivermectin.”
She reiterated that McElyea hadn’t treated patients at the NHS Sequoyah emergency room in several months.
“I can’t speak for what he has witnessed at other facilities but this
is not true for ours,” Six said. “We certainly have not turned any
patients away due to an overload of ivermectin related cases. All
patients who have come into our ER have been treated as appropriate.”
The story should have been viewed with skepticism from the beginning
since fewer than 500 calls about Ivermectin have been mad