Houston Methodist hit with 2nd lawsuit from physician accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation

A Houston physician who resigned her provisional privileges at Houston Methodist Hospital after being suspended for using social media to spread what the hospital called "dangerous [COVID-19] misinformation," is suing the hospital for a second time, according to Houston Public Media.

Mary Bowden, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist who runs a private practice, filed the $25 million lawsuit July 25 in Harris County District Court. The lawsuit accuses Houston Methodist Hospital as well as Houston Methodist President and CEO Marc Boom, MD, of defamation.

"Methodist and Boom retaliated against Dr. Bowden in an unprecedented manner. Without notice, they published false and defamatory statements to the press and on social media, affording no due process, acting contrary to and with reckless disregard for both the letter and spirit of Methodist's bylaws," the lawsuit reads, according to Houston Public Media.

During a news conference July 25, which was posted on Twitter, Dr. Bowden said she filed the lawsuit to hold the hospital accountable.

"I am being punished for speaking about what I am seeing firsthand," she said. "… I have now treated over 4,000 COVID-19 patients, and every single one of them who has received early treatment has stayed out of the hospital and survived, and no one has had any adverse repercussions from my treatment. But Methodist has made it appear that I am potentially dangerous and need to be silenced. And that is wrong."  

Houston Methodist referred Becker's to a brief statement it issued in a tweet before Dr. Bowden resigned from the hospital medical staff on Nov. 15, 2021, saying, "We do not have an updated statement today."

Dr. Bowden voluntarily resigned Nov. 15, 2021, after she was suspended Nov. 12 for using her social media accounts to spread what the hospital described as misinformation about COVID-19. 

The Houston Methodist statement around the time of Dr. Bowden's suspension said: "Dr. Mary Bowden, who recently joined the medical staff at Houston Methodist Hospital, is using her social media accounts to express her personal and political opinions about the COVID-19 vaccine and treatments. These opinions, which are harmful to the community, do not reflect reliable medical evidence or the values of Houston Methodist, where we have treated more than 25,000 COVID-19 inpatients, and where all our employees and physicians are vaccinated to protect our patients. Despite what she has posted, Houston Methodist does not and will never deny care to a patient based on vaccination status."

Houston Methodist's statement from that time also said that Dr. Bowden "has never admitted a patient at Houston Methodist Hospital," and "is spreading dangerous misinformation which is not based in science. Furthermore, Dr. Bowden has told Houston Methodist that she is vaccinated, as required of all physicians who practice at Houston Methodist."

The $25 million defamation lawsuit is the second lawsuit filed by Dr. Bowden against Houston Methodist.

She announced the first legal action at a news conference Jan. 17, saying she sought COVID-19 data as well as financial information from Houston Methodist.

At the time, she said: "We want to know, of the … people you have vaccinated, how many of those have had an adverse reaction, and what are they? Then, of all the people who have recently been admitted with COVID, how many of those people are fully vaccinated, how many of your fully vaccinated employees are having breakthrough cases, and of the … patients who have died in your hospitals, how many of them were refused early treatment?"

Dr. Bowden also posed financial questions, including whether the hospital has any financial relationships with the vaccine companies, and is seeking information related to hospital earnings during the pandemic.

Houston Methodist was the first in the country to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for its workforce.

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