It was seven years ago that Rolling Stone magazine ran the 9,000-word cover story on an alleged rape at the University of Virginia that turned out to be a complete hoax. (File it next to Dan Rather’s Texas Air National Guard story.)
Well, it looks like Rolling Stone has done it again. I don’t know what’s up with the controversy over the use of ivermectin, normally a drug treatment for de-worming horses, as a COVID treatment, but Rolling Stone has a long piece up claiming that an Oklahoma hospital is having to treat large numbers of ivermectin overdoses, and denying hospital beds for patients with other medical needs:
The rise in people using ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug usually reserved for deworming horses or livestock, as a treatment or preventative for Covid-19 has emergency rooms “so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting” access to health facilities, an emergency room doctor in Oklahoma said.
This week, Dr. Jason McElyea told KFOR the overdoses are causing backlogs in rural hospitals, leaving both beds and ambulance services scarce.
“The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated,” McElyea said.
There’s only one problem with the story: It is almost certainly fake news. Rolling Stone has now appended this note to the top of the piece:
UPDATE: Northeastern Hospital System Sequoyah issued a statement: 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.”
Layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors. . .
UPDATE: It’s not just Rolling Stone that can be bothered with checking out a story. Turns out Associated Press is just as bad:
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — In an article published Aug. 23, 2021, about people taking livestock medicine to try to treat coronavirus, The Associated Press erroneously reported based on information provided by the Mississippi Department of Health that 70% of recent calls to the Mississippi Poison Control Center were from people who had ingested ivermectin to try to treat COVID-19. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said Wednesday the number of calls to poison control about ivermectin was about 2%. He said of the calls that were about ivermectin, 70% were by people who had ingested the veterinary version of the medicine.
UPDATE 2: Rolling Stone has now appended this additional correction, which essentially retracts the entire story:
Update: One hospital has denied Dr. Jason McElyea’s claim that ivermectin overdoses are causing emergency room backlogs and delays in medical care in rural Oklahoma, and Rolling Stone has been unable to independently verify any such cases as of the time of this update.
The National Poison Data System states there were 459 reported cases of ivermectin overdose in the United States in August. Oklahoma-specific ivermectin overdose figures are not available, but the count is unlikely to be a significant factor in hospital bed availability in a state that, per the CDC, currently has a 7-day average of 1,528 Covid-19 hospitalizations. The doctor is affiliated with a medical staffing group that serves multiple hospitals in Oklahoma. Following widespread publication of his statements, one hospital that the doctor’s group serves, NHS Sequoyah, said its ER has not treated any ivermectin overdoses and that it has not had to turn away anyone seeking care. This and other hospitals that the doctor’s group serves did not respond to requests for comment and the doctor has not responded to requests for further comment. We will update if we receive more information.
Seriously Rolling Stone, could you screw it up any worse?