Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
A doctor who made the headlines when she refused to vaccinate a queue-jumping Austrian mayor is facing a disciplinary hearing for breaching medical confidentiality.
Doctor Susanne Furlan, who reportedly refused to give mayor Wolfgang Matt a shot, received a complaint for breaking medical confidentiality and giving a statement to local media.
The controversial incident happened last month during a vaccination rollout at a nursing home in Feldkirch, a town located in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg.
Local mayor Wolfgang Matt insisted on being vaccinated and justified his request by stating he had to make many visits to nursing homes, according to reports.
After the doctor refused to vaccinate the mayor because she did not feel like he was a priority patient, he complained to nursing home manager Herbert Lins who eventually approved his vaccination, according to local media.
Doctor Furlan was later quoted by the newspaper Vorarlberger Nachrichten as saying that she refused to vaccinate him because there were higher-priority patients waiting for the jab.
However, the mayor claimed that there were no elderly patients waiting for vaccination when he happily took the last dose.
Several days later, Doctor Furlan reaffirmed her view on a show hosted by TV presenter Armin Wolf where she claimed there were other prioritised patients according to the vaccination plan in place.
Regardless of the mayor’s attempts to defend himself, the incident drew a lot of negative attention after his statement: “Should I apologise for taking the last dose of vaccine? There were no other people waiting in the home.”
Now the Medical Association confirmed that a complaint against Doctor Furlan has been filed and that there is an ongoing screening process for the report. The medical chamber must now examine whether the allegations are justified.
A few weeks after the incident, Matthias Ortner, a spokesperson from the Medical Association of Vorarlberg, said: “We have no further information on this. As long as the proceedings are ongoing, the identity of the person who filed the report cannot be revealed.”
According to him, the process may take between several months and half a year.
In another interview, Doctor Furlan defended herself and said the January incident had nothing to do with medical confidentiality.
She said she does not know the identity of the person who filed the complaint, although she was certain it was not the mayor.
If the Medical Association rules out that the doctor breached her confidentiality duty, a variety of outcomes are possible from a simple warning to a loss of her medical license.
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