Florida doctor wasn’t removed from meeting for ivermectin claims

February 24, 2023 GMT

CLAIM: A Florida doctor was removed from a Sarasota hospital board meeting for testifying that ivermectin was effective against COVID-19.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Dr. John Littell testified Tuesday before the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, claiming that ivermectin was effective in treating COVID-19, and finished his remarks. He was later removed from the meeting after he approached a member of the board as the meeting took place, which a spokesperson said presented a safety risk.

THE FACTS: Widespread social media posts are creating the false impression that Littell was removed from the meeting because he claimed ivermectin worked against COVID-19. Ivermectin is an approved antiparasitic drug that has also gained recognition as an unproven treatment for COVID-19.

The posts share a video clip or screenshots of Littell, a doctor with offices outside of Sarasota County, being escorted from the meeting by public safety officers.

One vaccine-focused Twitter account reshared the clip and claimed that the doctor “gets kicked out of a hospital board meeting for testifying to the effectiveness of Ivermectin.”

Other popular posts misleadingly said Littell was removed “after” his testimony about ivermectin, implying a connection between his words and eventual ejection.

“Florida Doctor Removed from Hospital Board Meeting After Testifying on the Effectiveness of Ivermectin,” reads one headline that garnered more than 26,000 likes on Instagram.

But a video of the full meeting shared online shows that Littell was allowed to complete his remarks and was actually removed from the meeting about 40 minutes later, after he left the public seating area and approached a member of the board — something omitted in the clip circulating online. An officer allows Littell to collect his belongings and then escorts him out of the room.

A spokesperson for Sarasota Memorial Health Care System said the social media posts “mischaracterize what occurred.”

Littell “left his seat in the audience and approached a Hospital Board member while the Board was actively discussing and preparing to vote on the matter at hand,” hospital spokesperson Kim Savage said in an email.

“His behavior presented a safety risk and violated a clearly set rule of decorum for the public meeting,” Savage added. “His actions occurred in the final minutes of the meeting, at least 40 minutes after he and other attendees videotaping his demonstration had the chance to share their concerns during the public comment session of the board meeting.”

The hospital received multiple messages, some threatening, referencing the false and misleading claims.

“I’m gonna tell you this, Dr. John Littell was kicked out of a board meeting because he talked about ivermectin,” one caller claims in a voicemail that was shared with the AP by the hospital. “You hospitals across the country are going to have a hell of a f------ thing coming to you. You know, us people are getting f------ sick and tired of it. We’re getting sick and tired of you people thinking that you know better than these other doctors. Your time is about to expire.”

Littell did not immediately respond to an inquiry from the AP about the circumstances of his removal.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.