Rolling Stone reported that emergency rooms in Oklahoma are overwhelmed by patients suffering from overdoses of the drug ivermectin, to the point where gunshot victims are unable to be properly cared for. But Rolling Stone has issued an update after questions soon arose in regards to the credibility of the doctor who was quoted on the emergency room conditions.
The national Sept. 3 report by Rolling Stone originated with local Oklahoma news outlet KFOR and was shared by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow as well as self-proclaimed Harvard epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding. The local story went international and was picked up by the BBC, Business Insider, The Independent, and The Guardian, as well as other notable outlets.
KFOR interviewed Dr. Jason McElyea, who said that "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." KFOR wrote in the article entitled, "Patients overdosing on ivermectin backing up rural Oklahoma hospitals, ambulances," that "Dr. McElyea said patients are packing his eastern and southeastern Oklahoma hospitals after taking ivermectin doses meant for a full-sized horse, because they believed false claims the horse de-wormer could fight COVID-19."
The doctor, the main source for the report, said the patients are suffering from nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and cramping in minor cases. Adding more color to the story, McElyea is quoted saying: "The scariest one that I've heard of and seen is people coming in with vision loss."
McElyea went on to say that "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 said, "If there's no ambulance to take the call, there's no ambulance to come to the call."
The Rolling Stone report and KFOR's reporting was contradicted by a statement from one of the area hospitals that McElyea is listed as being affiliated with.
Northeastern Health System Sequoyah stated on its website that McElyea is not an employee of NHS Sequoyah but he is affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides coverage for its emergency room. However, he has not worked at the Sallisaw location in over two months, NHS Sequoyah emphasized, adding that it has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin.
"This includes not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose," NHS Sequoyah wrote. "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."
Rolling Stone has since updated its report by appending NHS Sequoyah's statement to the top of the article, but there has yet to be a formal correction or a retraction of the false claim.
"The only reason Rolling Stone is calling this an 'UPDATE' as opposed to what it so plainly is -- a RETRACTION -- is because liberal outlets know that their readers don't care at all if they publish fake news as long as it's done with the right political motives and goals," commented journalist Glenn Greenwald. "That's the same reason the hard-core Dem Party media loyalists, led as usual by @Maddow, spread this fake story all over based on what appears to be a fraudulent source without checking. Fake News is 100% acceptable if done with good political motives."
"Why is this viral @Maddow tweet spreading a totally false story still up?” Greenwald questioned further on Twitter. "Why doesn't it have a 'DISINFORMATION' label appended to it by @TwitterSafety? Why hasn't Maddow herself removed it? Why hasn't Twitter?"
The promotional photo used by Rolling Stone on social media to depict the overflow of emergency room patients was revealed to be an image from January at a church in Oklahoma City as residents waited to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Rolling Stone has published hoaxes in the past, most notably a 2014 article called "A Rape on Campus," which was discredited to the point where the publication had to pay the fraternity it had accused of rape $1.65 million. Rolling Stone also used an assault against The Post Millennial's editor-at-large Andy Ngo as a means to try to discredit him and his work.
Local news outlet KXMX reported on Sept. 4 that ivermectin overdoses are not an issue at the Sallisaw emergency room or hospital.
Hospital administrator Stephanie Six said on Saturday that "this is simply not the case in Sallisaw," the Oklahoma-based radio station wrote.
"We at NHS-Sequoyah have not seen or had any patients in our ER or hospital with ivermectin overdose," Six told KXMX. "We have not had any patients with complaints or issues related to ivermectin."
KXMX wrote that "Six wants the public to know that [McElyea] does not speak for NHS-Sequoyah and there have been no such issues at her facility. Six stated that Dr. McElyea has treated patients in the Sallisaw emergency room but not in the past several months."
"I can't speak for what he has witnessed at other facilities but this is not true for ours," Six told KXMX. "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."
Another report from KFOR from Aug. 25 showed that there were 11 overdoses of ivermectin in the entire state of Oklahoma. KFOR spoke to Scott Schaeffer, managing director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, who said: "Since the beginning of May, we've received reports of 11 people being exposed to ivermectin. Most developed relatively minor symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness, though there's the potential for more serious effects including low blood pressure and seizures with an overdose, as well as interactions with medications such as blood thinners."
McElyea is also listed as working at Integris Grove Hospital as a general family practitioner, not in the emergency room. Zero Hedge reported that a call to the hospital provided no insight as to any ivermectin overdoses; however, a man who answered the phone "sounded quite amused," the outlet reported.
The Post Millennial has contacted Katelyn Ogle, the journalist who wrote the initial KFOR report, but has not heard back at the time of publication.
Mia Cathell contributed to the reporting of the article.