A family member of a COVID-19 patient reportedly threatened a doctor after she wouldn't treat him with ivermectin

  • A COVID-19 patient's family threatened a doctor for not using ivermectin, BuzzFeed News reported.

  • The patient's family member said they have "ways to get people to do something" in their gun safe.

  • The threats are a part of a larger pattern of violence against medical staff during the pandemic.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The family member of a COVID-19 patient in Boise, Idaho, threatened a doctor who wouldn't treat the man with ivermectin, BuzzFeed News reported.

Dr. Ashley Carvalho recalled how the police had to remove the man's son-in-law from the hospital after he told her, "If you don't do this, I have a lot of ways to get people to do something, and they're all sitting in my gun safe at home," according to BuzzFeed News.

Ivermectin is a deworming drug that the FDA has warned against using in COVID-19 patients. The drug has become widely promoted among conspiracy theory circles as a treatment for COVID-19 - often by those who refuse to get vaccinated.

Carvalho told BuzzFeed News that hostility to healthcare workers and a new surge of COVID-19 cases are taking their toll, adding that she's more anxious now than she was before vaccines were available.

"I think it's just kind of a hopeless feeling," she said.

Healthcare workers across the US have seen a rise in violent threats

The threat against Carvalho is a part of a larger trend of violence against medical staff during the pandemic.

Karen Garvey, the vice president of patient safety and clinical risk management at Parkland Health & Hospital System, told the Texas Tribune in March that her hospital has seen a rise in violent threats since the pandemic began.

Garvey said there have been "people being punched in the chest, having urine thrown on them, and inappropriate sexual innuendos or behaviors in front of staff members." She also said medical staff have been called names and racial slurs in addition to getting broken bones and noses.

Natalie Higgins, a nurse at CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri, told KYTV that the number of physical and verbal assaults in her hospital rose in 2021 as the pandemic raged on.

"The first time I got verbally attacked by a patient, I was like 'Oh, my gosh.' Like I expected it, but not to the extent we see it every day," Higgins said. "The first time someone lunges at you, even still today, when they lunge at you, it's terrifying."

Higgins said CoxHealth has installed panic buttons on each staff member's ID badge to alert security when staffers are in danger.

Researchers and healthcare workers have sounded the alarm on the rise in workplace assaults in hospitals, but according to The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the real number of assaults may actually be much higher due to a lack of mandatory reporting.

"Alarmingly, the actual number of violent incidents involving health care workers is likely much higher because reporting is voluntary," the commission wrote.

Correction: This article originally used the wrong title for Dr. Ashley Carvalho, who is a physician.

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