Metro doctor accused of using untested corticosteroid treatments for COVID-19

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A metro doctor is being accused of using untested treatments for COVID-19 at his southwest Oklahoma City medical clinic. 

One Oklahoma City man and three of his family members were tested at Dr. Albert Nguyen’s Budget Medical Clinic.  

“All three of them tested positive,” Riojas said of his family members. “They were not having the real big symptoms of it.” 

However, Riojas said they all went elsewhere to get tested and it came back negative.  

“That kind of threw up a red flag,” Riojas said. 

Riojas said he went in with a slight cough from some allergy issues. That’s when he decided to get tested after his family members had been tested there.

Nguyen administered an antibody, also known as a serology, test. Nguyen said that he uses his clinical judgement to make a diagnosis if they test positive with the antibody test. 

“I want to do it so I can treat people,” Nguyen said. “It’s not a very good test, but it gets the job done. My treatment’s based on the clinical symptoms.” 

Nguyen also adding that he uses the test because it comes back fast. However, Dr. Dale Bratzler, the chief COVID-19 officer with OU medical said he disagrees with his process. 

“That’s an antibody test which is of no value for diagnosing COVID-19,” Bratzler said. 

Bratzler said those tests are only used to see if a person has had the virus in the past, not if they have it currently. Dr. Nguyen admitted that he’s alone in this process. 

“As far as I know I think I’m the only one,” Nguyen said. 

After a diagnosis, Nguyen said his treatment turns to corticosteroids. He said he uses 10 milligrams of dexamethasone and 40 milligrams of Kenalog in an injection, compared to the 6 milligrams of dexamethasone over 10 days that they give in hospitals to seriously ill patients.

Bratzler said corticosteroids have been used for several years in the past for many different things. However, he said studies show it should only be used for people that have severe cases of COVID-19.

“Patients with mild illness should not receive corticosteroids,” he said. 

Dr. Nguyen said he’s writing a paper on his treatments that he has tried to send to academic journals. 

“On my paper I tried to argue that what I’m doing right here is three times stronger,” he said. 

“This sounds almost like a study you are working and it sounds like you are testing it on patients would you say that, that’s true?” KFOR asked. 

“I wouldn’t say that I’m testing on,” Nguyen said “If this is something that I think of as this is a method to fight COVID then I would say I’m testing on human objects, but I’m not, this is something I’ve been doing since 2015.” 

Nguyen said so far all the journals have turned him away. 

“I am the soldier, the general in the back tells me, Albert you need a tank to kill the enemy. I tell him general I know that, but I don’t have the tank,” Nguyen said. “All I have is a knife, fist fight. I’m going to have to use it to fight the enemy, it’s not very good, but it’s what I have to do.” 

Nguyen claimed a lot of his clients felt better after giving them the corticosteroids. However, Bratzler said that is to be expected with drugs like corticosteroids. 

“They’ll make you feel great,” he said “They block inflammation, but that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with COVID-19.” 

He said the doses being given by Nguyen won’t cause any harm. However, he points to the studies that said it doesn’t do any good either to people with minor symptoms. Also, they can even cause problems if taken too much. 

“They also make your body more susceptible to secondary infections, screw up your blood sugar,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Riojas said he just wants to see someone look into the treatment process being used by Dr. Nguyen. 

“To me that makes me feel like a guinea pig,” Riojas said. 

Nguyen has been disciplined by the Oklahoma State Medical Board for aiding and abetting and overprescribing violations.  

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