Controversial Doc No Longer With One of Idaho’s Largest Health Networks

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A controversial pathologist from Idaho who has been criticized for spreading false information about COVID-19 is leaving a health network that provides care to more than 160,000 people in the state, according to a report by the Idaho Capital Sun.

Ryan Cole, MD, who has previously come under fire for prescribing ivermectin to COVID patients and spreading falsities about COVID vaccines, will no longer be a part of St. Luke’s Health Partners, an integrated health network that includes around 2,800 providers in Idaho. Both Cole and his laboratory, Cole Diagnostics, which provides COVID testing, are leaving the network this month — meaning, his lab will no longer be able to provide “in-network” diagnostic testing to hundreds of thousands of Idahoans.

It is unclear whether the health system removed Cole, or if he decided to leave on his own. The pathologist’s employment contract with St. Luke’s, which is known as BrightPath in some regions of the state, will remain in effect until December 22.

“St. Luke’s can confirm that Cole Diagnostics (and its sole provider, Dr. Cole) is no longer participating in the St. Luke’s Health Partners or BrightPath networks,” said Christine Myron, St. Luke’s public relations manager for the Treasure Valley, in a statement to MedPage Today. She noted that Idaho’s peer review statute prevents the health network from disclosing further details about this decision.

Cole did not respond to a request for comment from MedPage Today.

In September, Cole was appointed to the lone physician seat on one of Idaho’s regional medical boards. However, leading up to this appointment, the pathologist repeatedly made dubious claims about pandemic safety measures and COVID vaccines, falsely stating that they cause could cancer or autoimmune diseases.

Additionally, speaking at a summit hosted by America’s Frontline Doctors last July, Cole referred to the COVID-19 vaccine as “a fake vaccine,” “the clot shot,” and even “needle rape.” He later told KTVB that he was being “tongue-in-cheek,” but maintained that he did not support forcing people to take the vaccine and that he and his family would not be getting the shot.

Cole has also touted the benefits of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID, despite evidence to the contrary. Leaders of the Idaho Medical Association called for an investigation into Cole in October, not over his false statements, but his prescribing of ivermectin to patients with COVID. In a letter to the state medical board, the officials said that Cole, who claimed “he has treated patients ‘from Florida to California'” with the anti-parasitic drug, was not following the standard of care and that the drug “does more harm than good.”

According to the Idaho Board of Medicine website, they have yet to take disciplinary action against Cole. However, the Washington Medical Commission recently opened an investigation into Cole, who obtained a license in the state in 2007.

  • Amanda D’Ambrosio is a reporter on MedPage Today’s enterprise & investigative team. She covers obstetrics-gynecology and other clinical news, and writes features about the U.S. healthcare system. Follow

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