Garden City pathologist Ryan Cole burst onto the national scene as a leading COVID-19 vaccine denier and purveyor of unproven cures in July 2021. Speaking at a meeting of US First line, a group of anti-COVID-19 vaccination activists, Cole falsely described life-saving vaccines as “fakes”, “clot injection” and “needle rape”. He falsely claimed that thousands of people had died from the vaccine.
USA Today fact-checked an article in which Cole reported a “20-fold increase” in cancer in vaccine patients and found it to be “nonsense.” He may have trouble recognizing cancer because, as the Idaho Capital Sun reported in May, he misdiagnosed two women with cancer last year.
While discouraging people from getting vaccinated, Cole and his America’s Frontline Doctors partners have peddled unproven cures for the virus, including horse dewormer (ivermectin) and hydroxychloroquine. The network has reaped millions for fake remedies and online consultations.
Cole has repeatedly warned against life-saving COVID vaccinations, while promoting ineffective remedies. It’s like urging soldiers to attack without helmets or body armor.
Shortly after Cole’s national debut, COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths spiked dramatically in Idaho. State officials reported that fully vaccinated people were 11 times less likely to be hospitalized and 20 times less likely to die than unvaccinated people. Doctors at the Idaho hospital say Cole’s actions had an impact on Idahoans whom he convinced to avoid vaccinations.
The Idaho Board of Medicine has a legal responsibility to discipline physicians who engage in prejudicial conduct. This conduct includes:
- directly promote the sale of drugs to a patient that are unnecessary and not medically indicated;
- engage in unprofessional behavior that could reasonably be expected to negatively impact patient care; and
- provide health care that does not meet the recognized standard of care.
The Idaho Medical Association filed a lawsuit against Cole with the Idaho Board of Medicine last October, claiming he violated his ethical obligation to “first do no harm” by advising against vaccination and promoting the use of ivermectin. The association had previously warned that Cole’s “dangerous claims regarding the prevention and treatment of COVID-19… fall short of Idaho’s standard of care.”
It is unclear whether any action has been taken on this complaint or others filed with the Idaho Board of Medicine. Cole’s attorney said the board declined to investigate, the Idaho Capital Sun reported July 29.
Idaho’s Dr. Ryan Cole defends his medical license, saying complaints are political attacks
Cole is also licensed in Washington, and a lawsuit against him is currently pending before the Washington Medical Commission. The complaint details numerous ways in which Cole’s conduct endangered public safety. The commission investigates Cole’s conduct as it relates to Washington. There are certainly reasons for the Idaho Board of Medicine to do the same in Idaho.
The Idaho Board of Medicine needs to realize that the language of the law prohibiting misconduct that negatively affects patient care is not limited to a physician’s own patients, but is worded to apply broadly in the health care setting.
The prohibition on violating the standard of care applies to the doctor’s own patients, and it’s worth noting that Cole admits to prescribing the horse wormer to 170 of his own patients. The Idaho Board of Medicine should seek details of the doctor-patient interactions that resulted in these prescriptions. This can be complicated, as Cole reportedly told the Washington Medical Board that he no longer had patient records.
Cole is likely hoping the Idaho Board of Medicine will refrain from taking action against his license this year. His Central District Health Board sidekick, Raúl Labrador, could win the race for Idaho attorney general and grant him permanent immunity. Labrador has repeatedly said that he will run the AG office politically, and what better policy than to protect and reward your political friends.
Some progress has been made to lessen Cole’s influence. Cole was removed from the St. Luke’s Health Partners network and lost his consultant status with Boise VA Medical Center. It is now up to the Idaho Board of Medicine to do its part.