On Friday, Sept. 3, Rolling Stone magazine published a viral story claiming a rise in number of people using ivermectin â an anti-parasitic drug used for deworming livestock â as a treatment for Covid-19 had Oklahoma hospitals "so backed up" that it was preventing gunshot victims from getting access to healthcare.
In its report, which previously carried the headline, "Gunshot victims left waiting as horse dewormer overdoses overwhelm Oklahoma hospitals, doctor says," Rolling Stone published testimony from Dr. Jason McElyea, a doctor affiliated with one of the Oklahoma-based hospitals.
"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," Rolling Stone quoted McElyea as saying.
The story, which originally appeared in Oklahoma's KFOR-TV news, was widely shared by reporters including MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow and was also picked up by other news outlets including New York Daily News, Newsweek, The Guardian, and Insider.
Hospital Releases Statement Denying Rolling Stone's Claims
Shortly after the story went viral, the Northeastern Hospital System, which McElyea works for, issued a statement regarding his association with the hospitals reported in the story. The NHS revealed that while McElyea "is affiliated" with a medial staffing group, he has not worked at the location in question for 2 months nor has he treated any ivermectin overdoses.
"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," the statement reads.
The hospital also added that no patients were being turned away for emergency care as reported in the Rolling Stones article.
"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."
Rolling Stones Used a Photo from a Vaccine Drive in January
In its article, Rolling Stones included a photo showing people waiting in line, seemingly to receive treatment at a Oklahoma hospital. However, a Twitter user pointed out that the image in question was an Associated Press photo from a vaccine drive for African-Americans outside a church in Oklahoma City in January.
Rolling Stones later posted an update on the article that read as follows: "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 magazine also re-iterated the NHS statement as part of its update.
The magazine has since drawn criticism on social media for publishing "fake news" and then posting an "update" on the article instead of a "retraction." Here are some of the tweets: