Former Iowa State Senator, Dr. David Hartsuch, has filed a lawsuit against the Iowa Boards of Medicine and Pharmacy in an effort to protect the rights of Iowa patients and their physicians from unlawful board activity. Hartsuch is an emergency medicine physician with more than 20 years of practice.
Hartsuch said the boards are preventing patients from receiving “early, life-saving treatment by unlawfully suppressing physician speech considered contrary to the State narrative concerning COVID-19.”
The Director of the Board of Medicine emailed a joint statement to physicians in March of 2020 to prevent them from prescribing hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin (a common antibiotic used to treat bronchitis, which frequently accompanies the disease).
The statement was sent without board approval and conflicted with the best-known medical science, Hartsuch said. In July of 2020, Hartsuch petitioned the board to consider the matter and provided scientific medical information demonstrating the importance of early intervention with hydroxychloroquine.
In October of 2020, the boards issued a revised joint statement allowing use of the drugs. But the Medical Board’s director refused a request by Hartsuch to inform all licensees of the change directly. He also ignored FOIA requests from Hartsuch for the science behind the board’s original statement.
“I was later shocked to discover that despite the boards’ new policy permitting the use of these drugs, doctors in Iowa who lawfully treated COVID-19, including myself, were being investigated for the very thing the new policy allowed,” Hartsuch said. “Worse yet, pharmacists, under the direction of the Board of Pharmacy, refused to fill lawful prescriptions for these life-saving drugs.”
A patient of Hartsuch filed a complaint with the Pharmacy Board in October of 2021 when a pharmacist refused to dispense the drugs. The Board of Medicine retaliated with an “unfounded and punitive” nine-month investigation against Hartsuch, which recently finished.
“Many great physicians who properly treated COVID-19 are still under investigation by the Board of Medicine,” Hartsuch said. “This needs to stop now!”
Hartsuch alleges the boards are trampling on his patient’s constitutional right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
“Patients rely upon state boards to protect their health,” he said. “Instead, these heavyweights have tag-teamed patients with a simultaneous body slam. The Board of Medicine silenced doctors while the Board of Pharmacy prevented patients from receiving early life-saving treatment. For over two years, they have assaulted patients and people have died. I hope that this lawsuit will shed light on the process and bring the action of the boards into conformance with Iowa law. Gov. Kim Reynolds needs to intervene. Patients need relief.”
Hartsuch is seeking enforcement of Iowa law instead of monetary damages.