OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — On September 1, a Nexstar affiliate in Oklahoma City published a poorly sourced article that claimed hospitals in eastern Oklahoma are overwhelmed with ivermectin overdoses and do not have the capacity to treat gunshot victims. Working at KFOR-TV, reporter Katelyn Ogle’s byline was on a thinly sourced piece about a McAlester, Oklahoma medical doctor who claimed, “[P]atients who are taking the horse de-wormer medication, ivermectin, to fight COVID-19 are causing emergency room and ambulance back ups.”
“Dr. [Jason] 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,” Ogle reported.
The story was explosive, except it wasn’t true, claimed one of the hospitals where Dr. McElyea practiced.
“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,” stated the Sallisaw, Oklahoma hospital located near the Oklahoma-Arkansas border and about an hour-and-a-half drive from Dr. McEyea’s McAlester, Oklahoma office.
“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,” NHS Sequoyah stated.
Ogle used a single source, Dr. McElyea, and does not name hospitals impacted. She did not source any hospital spokesmen to confirm or deny Dr. McElyea’s allegation. Readers in Oklahoma City were left wondering which hospitals are full of patients suffering from ivermectin overdoses... just in case a member of her audience was shot in eastern Oklahoma.
Ogle’s piece was picked up by Rolling Stone Magazine, a national website with a much larger audience than a local TV news station, even a station in a city as large as Oklahoma City. Not to be outdone by KFOR, the left-leaning Rolling Stone with an agenda hyped Ogle’s original reporting to new heights with the headline, “Gunshot Victims Left Waiting as Horse Dewormer Overdoses Overwhelm Oklahoma Hospitals, Doctor Says.” In the Rolling Stone piece, it appears the writer, Peter Wade, lifted the quotes precisely from Ogle’s report. There seemingly was no attempt by Wade to confirm Ogle’s report or to gather more than one source as copied from Ogle who originally reported it.
Rolling Stone’s piece is what is called “parachute journalism.” It usually happens with breaking news stories where the original reporter on the scene publishes a story only to have a larger media outlet lift the content to make its own version of the story, hence “parachuting in on the action.”
Parachuting amplifies the story, and in this case, the story was mostly false. A cursory Google News search produced pages of news sources across the nation reporting the mostly inaccurate claim about ivermectin overdoses in Oklahoma, presuming many Americans there who are taking ivermectin are purchasing the veterinarian drug at the local feed store then self-medicating, causing overdoses.
A human consumable version of ivermectin can be prescribed by a doctor and these days it is usually prescribed to combat a Covid-19 infection. Tom Green County’s local health authority Dr. James Vretis said he was aware some San Angelo and surrounding area doctors are prescribing the drug and noted that he doesn’t interfere. But, he warned, alternative drugs to CDC recommended treatments should be and “and” and not an “or” to what he viewed as more effective and proven therapeutics, specifically getting a monoclonol antibody treatment.
Dr. Doug Schultz, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Shannon Clinic, stated the latest medical advice for people who catch Covid-19 last week. His recommendations mirror what Dr. Vretis told us.
"Our first recommendation is the monoclonol antibody treatment. There is a 10 day window from the onset of symptoms where the treatment is most effective. Last week we also started giving this treatment via injection instead of IV infusion. Patients like this form much better as it just takes a few minutes instead of a one hour infusion. A physician does have to order this treatment, but any of our physicians can order this including those at Urgent Care. There are some requirements in that the patient has to have at least one of several high risk conditions such as diabetes or asthma. However, a BMI over 25 also qualifies which includes a higher percentage of most patients," said Dr. Schultz.
"The other recommendations are to treat fever with over-the-counter products. Stay home to rest and minimize spread to others. You should seek medical evaluation if becoming short of breath or not improving. Other medications have not shown to be effective such as Ivermectin, Hydorchloroquine, or steroids (unless for asthma)," said Schultz.
Ogle’s biography on the KFOR website states that she has been in broadcast journalism since 2018. She has family roots in journalism, too. “She is the granddaughter of the late Jack Ogle, one of Oklahoma’s most famous broadcast journalists and member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame,” her biography states. Despite her pedigree, she should have talked to official sources before crying wolf.
San Angelo TV stations KSAN and KLST along with Abilene TV stations KTAB and KRBC are Nexstar-owned stations. Nexstar's Abilene affiliate TV stations website, BigCountryHomePage.com, picked up Oglee's mostly inaccurate story and did not post a retraction.