Houston Methodist suspends privileges of physician following tweets about COVID-19 vaccine, treatments

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Houston Methodist has suspended the privileges of a physician who the system says spread "harmful" and "dangerous" information about the COVID-19 vaccine and treatments, CNN reported Nov. 13.

Mary Bowden, MD, an ear, nose and throat physician, recently joined the medical staff at Houston Methodist Hospital, the system's flagship, and is using her social media accounts to express her personal and political opinions, Houston Methodist tweeted Nov. 12.  

"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," the system said.

A spokesperson for Houston Methodist told CNN and ABC affiliate KTRK that Dr. Bowden's privileges at the hospital were suspended pending investigation.

Dr. Bowden has tweeted about vaccination mandates and treatments, including her support for the drug ivermectin. Ivermectin is typically used to treat parasitic infections in animals, and the FDA has warned against using it to treat COVID-19.

In a statement shared with CNN and KTRK, Dr. Bowden's attorney Steven Mitby said the physician has treated more than 2,000 patients with COVID-19, many with co-morbidities, and has yet to have one of her patients end up in the hospital."

"Her early treatment methods work and are saving lives," he added.

"Dr. Bowden has the utmost respect for Houston Methodist and is proud of the work she has done along with her colleagues at Houston Methodist."

In addition to tweeting about ivermectin, Dr. Bowden also criticizes vaccination mandates on social media, according to CNN.

Mr. Mitby said Dr. Bowden is not anti-vaccine and "believes that people should have a choice and believes that all people, regardless of vaccine status, should have access to the same high-quality healthcare without discrimination."

Houston Methodist said the system "does not and will never deny care to a patient based on vaccination status." The system added that Dr. Bowden has never admitted a patient at Houston Methodist Hospital and is "spreading dangerous misinformation which is not based in science."

Houston Methodist, which comprises an academic medical center and six community hospitals, was the first large, integrated health system to implement a vaccination mandate for employees. Nearly all the system's employees got vaccinated, but 153 of them either resigned during a two-week suspension period or were terminated June 22 for not complying with the mandate. The system said Dr. Bowden has told the system she is vaccinated, as required.  

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