Covid Media Misguidance: A Case Report Highlighting the Influence of Media on Patient Medication Decision Making

  • Shaylee Anderson University of Utah
  • Joe Windscheffel University of Utah
  • Karen Gunning University of Utah
Keywords: COVID19, atovaquone-proguanil hydrochloride, pharmacist, media, antimalarial


Purpose: This case report details the influence of media on patients and the responsibility of health care providers to educate their patients on proper use of medications, and to be aware of potential misadventures based on messages in popular media.

Summary: The sudden rise of the COVID19 pandemic has led to media outlets reporting science without necessary peer review and has resulted in preliminary data presented as factual evidence. It is difficult for patients without an extensive medical background in science to fully understand the uncertainty of information shared in popular media. This was demonstrated when preliminary data showed potential promise of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment/prevention of COVID19. This led to patients requesting hydroxychloroquine prescriptions from their providers, as well as stockpiling medication, which led to a shortage. In addition, patients began taking chloroquine containing substances not intended for human consumption. Popular media created a belief in the general public that all antimalarial drugs may work to prevent COVID19. This case report presents an elderly patient that presented to clinic with shortness of breath and lightheadedness. Upon interviewing the patient, it was discovered that he had been taking an old supply of atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride. Physical exam, and laboratory examination were evaluated to rule out any other etiology with all tests and exams being unremarkable. Two weeks after stopping atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride, the patient’s symptoms completely resolved.

Conclusion: The media provides a significant portion of the information that patients receive regarding rapidly changing treatment information in a pandemic. It is crucial for health care providers to know what information patients are exposed to, and to educate patients with evidence-based information.  Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers and have a key role in medication review and management. Educating patients on evidence-based use of medications may help avoid harm caused by misinformation from unreliable media sources.  

article type

Case Study


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Received 2020-10-20
Accepted 2020-12-04
Published 2021-01-08
Pharmacy Practice & Practice-Based Research