UPDATE: On December 3, Sentara Healthcare respond to 10 On Your Side’s request for comment with the following statement:
At Sentara Healthcare, we care for all patients and consider every individual a person of sacred worth and value. In accordance with applicable state statutes, and consistent with hospital policies, we cannot comment on any medical staff proceedings. We will continue to remain focused on providing excellent patient care.
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A doctor who is taking Sentara Healthcare to court so he can prescribe a controversial COVID-19 drug to his patients has been suspended from working in a Norfolk hospital for two weeks, according to his attorney.
News of the suspension came just one day before a court declined to force the hospital to let the doctor prescribe the drug to his patients.
Dr. Paul Marik, a doctor with Eastern Virginia Medical School who has had privileges at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, filed a request for a temporary injunction in Norfolk Circuit Court earlier this month. If issued, the injunction would have allowed Marik to prescribe Ivermectin, a controversial anti-parasitic drug some say could treat COVID-19.
On Tuesday Marik’s motion for a temporary injunction was denied.
The court denied in part Sentara’s motion claiming a lack of standing on Marik’s part. The court said Marik didn’t have standing to bring a claim under Virginia’s Health Care Decisions Act, but said he did have standing for an informed consent claim on behalf of his patients. However, the court said Marik is unlikely to succeed on the merits of his informed consent claim.
Marik’s attorney said he thinks the court’s ruling shows the judge wants more information on informed consent. In the judge’s opinion, the judge said that Marik’s position that doctors should be able to demand hospitals support their alternative treatments — even if the hospital believes they’re unsafe — doesn’t appear to fall under Virginia’s informed consent law and “could set a dangerous precedent.”
“While we are disappointed that the Court did not grant the temporary injunction, our case for the rights of doctors and their patients remains alive and well. We expect to ultimately succeed on the merits of our case at trial,” said Marik’s attorney, Fred D. Taylor.
Sentara released a statement after the court ruling: “We are appreciative of the Court’s ruling on Dr. Marik’s request for preliminary injunction regarding Sentara Healthcare’s COVID-19 protocols. Sentara Healthcare is committed to delivering the highest quality of care to all patients at Sentara facilities. We understand some community members might see conflicting articles based on misinformation available online, but we want to assure our patients and community members that our treatment guidelines are extensively reviewed by multi-disciplinary groups of clinicians using the latest medical literature, care standards and expertise available.
“Patients are safe in our care and healthcare professionals working in Sentara facilities follow evidence-based protocols as recommended by trusted agencies including the CDC, NIH, FDA and WHO. Sentara is consistently ranked among the top hospitals in the nation for quality and patient safety.”
Sentara and Riverside Health have both banned the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19. Sentara has argued Marik can recommend the drug for treatment, but the doctor also wants to be able to prescribe it because he believes it can save lives.
Some health officials have said there are small individual studies supporting Ivermectin in treating COVID-19, but they “don’t add up to sufficient evidence,” a Riverside Health System official told 10 On Your Side this month. They said a Cochrane analysis of the methodology used for some recent studies on Ivermectin and COVID-19 also revealed problems.
According to Marik’s attorney on Monday, the doctor’s privileges in the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital ICU have been suspended for 14 days.
The information about the suspension was in a letter written by Taylor on Monday. 10 On Your Side obtained a copy of the letter.
The letter from Taylor alleges Marik reported for work Saturday morning in the intensive care unit at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and found a letter on his desk informing him that his hospital privileges had been suspended for 14 days.
The letter was dated Nov. 18, the same date Sentara and Marik appeared in court to argue their sides about why the injunction should or shouldn’t be issued. Taylor said Marik was unaware of the suspension when he appeared in court, only finding out when he arrived at the hospital Saturday.
Taylor said Sentara said they had sent Marik an email with notice of the suspension as well, but Marik said he didn’t receive it.
The letter asks for a supplemental hearing in court to “redress these material facts evidencing misrepresentations before this Court.”
10 On Your Side reached out to Sentara Monday evening. The hospital system did not confirm whether it had suspended Marik.
“In accordance with Virginia state statutes, and consistent with hospital policies, we cannot comment on any medical staff proceedings,” a Sentara spokeswoman said.
Taylor called the suspension a “blatant act of retaliation” against Marik for filing the suit.
“This is a desperate attempt by Sentara to say that Dr. Marik does not have standing since he was suspended at the time of arguing his case in court,” said Taylor.
Taylor also said the letter indicates Marik should appear at a proceeding before a committee on Dec. 2.
While Taylor did not include a copy of the letter from Sentara with his letter addressing the court, Taylor said Sentara said Marik “informed [COVID] patients that ‘your hands were tied’ and that there was nothing more you could do for them.”
This story will be updated with additional details as they’re available.