Appellate court refuses to make Elgin hospital give ivermectin to patient

An appellate court has refused to make an Elgin hospital give the controversial drug ivermectin to a COVID-19 patient as a treatment.

The 2nd District Appellate Court ruled Wednesday that Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital does not have to let Sebastian Abbinanti's doctor give the 40-year-old man the drug.

Abbinanti and his wife, Maria, were hospitalized in late November. Their health care agents asked a Kane County judge on Dec. 15 to overrule the hospital. On Dec. 17, Judge Robert Villa refused to do so. Maria died on Dec. 21.

"The facts underlying this case are sad indeed," Justice Mary Schostok wrote in the opinion issued by the three-judge appellate panel. But patients do not have a contractual right to force a hospital to give or allow a treatment not approved by the hospital, the panel ruled.

In September, the company that owns St. Joseph prohibited using oral ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. The drug is used to treat some parasitic conditions in humans. Forms of it also are used to treat parasites in animals. Federal authorities have not approved it as a treatment for COVID-19 and urge doctors not to use it off-label.

According to social media posts, Sebastian Abbinanti remains in the hospital. His attorney, Patrick Walsh, could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

In May, a DuPage County judge ordered Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst to give a doctor admitting privileges and let him give a 68-year-old woman ivermectin. She has recovered.

In November, another DuPage judge ordered Edward Hospital in Naperville to give admitting privileges to a doctor and allow him to give ivermectin to a 71-year-old man. He has recovered.

The St. Joseph case differed in that Dr. Sergei Lipov had hospital admitting privileges. The Abbinanti suit contends the hospital unlawfully interfered with Lipov's ability to treat his patients as he saw fit. But because he is not a party to the lawsuit, Villa and the appellate judges said that didn't apply.

The judges didn't rule on the merits of ivermectin.

"This court is highly sympathetic to the plaintiffs' worthy goal, which is to pursue every possible avenue that could benefit the Abbinantis' health. However, as an appeals court in a sister state has observed, 'judges are not doctors' and 'cannot practice medicine from the bench,'" Schostok wrote.

Illinois law requires plaintiffs seeking an injunction, sometimes called a temporary restraining order, to meet four factors. They have to show they have a protectable right, that they will suffer irreparable harm without the injunction, that there is no adequate legal remedy to keep them from being harmed while a lawsuit proceeds, and that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their case.

Both Villa and the appellate court said Abbinanti does not have a protectable right and that he is not likely to win the lawsuit.

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Sabina Bosell of Downers Grove holds a sign in honor of Maria and Sebastian Abbinanti outside Amita Health St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin on Dec. 22, after a Kane County judge denied a request to make the hospital let the drug ivermectin be administered to fight their COVID-19 infections. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Media
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