Montana’s Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen has come under fire regarding an effort he made to assist a family having trouble communicating with a relative being treated for COVID 19 at a Helena hospital.

The Associated Press issued the following story earlier this week.

‘HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republican leaders in the Legislature have approved a Democratic request for an investigation into the Montana Department of Justice's involvement in a complaint made by the family of a COVID-19 patient at a Helena hospital. St. Peter's Health said last week that three public officials threatened to use their positions to force doctors and nurses to treat the patient with ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasites. Senate President Mark Blasdel says the hospital has made serious allegations, and he and House Speaker Wylie Galt agreed to the request for the investigation. The hospital didn't name the public officials, but the Attorney General's Office confirmed their involvement.’

Knudsen spokesman Kyler Nerison provided this statement to KGVO News:

The Attorney General’s Office received a report from a family that said St. Peter’s Hospital was violating their relative’s rights by refusing to allow her to receive prescribed medications, not delivering legal documents, not allowing them to see their relative, and at one point, even cutting off text message communication between them and their family member.

The family asked for our assistance and a (Montana Highway Patrol) trooper was dispatched to speak with the family at the hospital.

Following that conversation, Attorney General Knudsen spoke with hospital executives and received assurances that they would cease preventing communication between the patient and her family and deliver the legal documents she needed.

The Department of Justice has a legal obligation to review any complaints of patient abuse or patient neglect and it’s unfortunate that the hospital and certain members of the Montana media are trying to turn the focus away from the serious allegations regarding the mistreatment of a patient.

The Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation does not involve any specific medical treatment, nor did anyone at our agency give any directive to hospital staff regarding any specific medical treatment.

No one was threatened or had their clinical judgment questioned while the Department of Justice was trying to get to the bottom of the serious allegations made against the hospital.

Our concern was – and the focus of our investigation continues to be – allegations that the hospital mistreated a patient and violated her rights and her family’s rights.

After the special counsel request was approved, Nerison provide this statement on behalf of the Attorney General.

‘Not a single Montana Democrat legislator reached out to our agency with any questions about the incident before this partisan political stunt. As we’ve said from the beginning, no one was threatened or had their clinical judgment questioned while the Department of Justice was trying to get to the bottom of the allegations made against the hospital.’

Nerison said the Attorney General will provide full cooperation in any investigation into this incident.


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