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Idaho doctors, pathology board accuse Dr. Ryan Cole of endangering public health

Dr. Ryan Cole speaks at the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons conference in Pittsburgh early October. (Screengrab from video)
Dr. Ryan Cole speaks at the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons conference in Pittsburgh early October. (Screengrab from video)

The pathology board’s letter notes his public comments that insist vaccines are harmful and masks are ineffective.

Idaho physicians allege, in complaints to a Washington medical board, that patients came into their hospitals sick with COVID-19 after taking advice or treatment from Dr. Ryan Cole, according to documents obtained by the Idaho Capital Sun through a public records request.

In addition, the American Board of Pathology urged the Washington Medical Commission to consider the actions of Cole, who is licensed to practice in Washington and previously told the Idaho Capital Sun he prescribed medications including ivermectin to at least one patient in Washington, via telehealth.

Cole is certified by the American Board of Pathology as a clinical and anatomic pathologist, a doctor who examines tissue from a biopsy to look for cancer, for example. He has operated a lab, Cole Diagnostics, for nearly 20 years as a pathologist — as opposed to examining patients or working as a primary care provider.

Cole could not be reached for comment.

The Idaho Medical Association also has filed a complaint to the Idaho Board of Medicine asking for disciplinary action, partly on that basis: a pathologist’s scope of practice does not include direct patient care, or treatment of COVID-19.

The Sun reported in October that Cole was the subject of an investigation by the Washington Medical Commission.

Cole is the sole physician member of the Central District Health board, the largest regional public health board in Idaho.

The pathology board’s letter notes his public comments, which insist that vaccines are harmful and masks are ineffective.

“He has advised patients to take hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin without scientific data to support their use in the treatment of patients with COVID-19,” the pathology board wrote. “We also received an allegation that Dr. Cole may have provided prescriptions to patients in the absence of a physician-patient relationship and without sufficient medical record keeping.”

The pathology board’s letter says it agrees with the stance of the Federation of State Medical Boards, that doctors may be disciplined for spreading false information related to public health.

“Patients must be able to trust physicians with their lives and health,” the pathology board wrote.

A batch of documents that accompanied a complaint filed to the Washington Medical Commission included signed affidavits from Treasure Valley doctors who work in local emergency departments.

One physician said he was “told by many patients that they are taking ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19” and chose not to be vaccinated “on the advice of individuals who are publicly advising them to do so, including Dr. Ryan Cole.”

Another doctor who works in two local emergency departments said some of her patients reported taking ivermectin “upon the advice or prescription of Dr. Ryan Cole” and were “quite surprised to learn that ivermectin did not prevent or cure their COVID infection.”

A third physician reported similar experiences.

“Some of my patients inform me that they are taking ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19,” that physician wrote. “A substantial percentage of them tell me it was prescribed or recommended by Dr. Ryan Cole who they have trusted for medical advice due to his warnings about taking the COVID vaccine or his recorded lectures touting the dangers of the vaccine and the effectiveness of ivermectin.”

The doctor said those patients “had developed severe COVID-19 and many require hospital admission, with some requiring critical care services,” adding that they had relied on Cole’s statements “because he is a physician and because of the expertise he has represented, and his commitment to sharing what he indicates is the real science behind COVID-19.”

The patients believed ivermectin would treat their COVID-19 symptoms, the doctor wrote. But ivermectin — a medication used in the U.S. and globally to treat parasitic infections — did not help them, and the patients “unwittingly [contributed] to the hospital capacity constraints that we are currently facing by relying on disinformation perpetuated by Dr. Cole, which not only presents a danger to the health and well-being of the patients, but also our community,” the doctor wrote.

The records show that an investigator for the Washington Medical Commission followed up with physicians to seek more details and patient records.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.