A hospital CEO is under fire after accusing a black doctor of ‘intiminating’ nursing staff two weeks after she died from COVID-19.
Dr. Susan Moore, 52, died on Sunday due to complications from COVID-19 at Indiana University North Hospital. Two weeks earlier, she had posted a viral video where she said she was being denied pain medication by a white physician.
She was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on November 29. Since then, she had been admitted to the Indiana University North Hospital.
While lying in a hospital bed and connected to an oxygen tube, Moore, who was struggling to speak, posted a video on Facebook on December 4 in which she accused the white doctor who was treating her of downplaying her complaints of pain.
Her death raised serious questions about her treatment, and Dennis Murphy, CEO of Indiana University North Hospital, issued a statement defending his staff and promising an investigation.
He also speculated that, as a doctor, she may have ‘intimidated’ the nurses.
Dennis Murphy, CEO of IU Health, has sparked anger with his description of Moore
Dr. Susan Moore, 52, died on Sunday due to complications from COVID-19. Her death comes more than two weeks after she posted a viral video on Facebook saying that she was not given adequate medical care while hospitalized at Indiana University North in Carmel, Indiana
She was first diagnosed with COVID-19 on November 29. In the Facebook video, Moore said that medical staff at IU North waited hours before giving her desperately needed pain medication
Murphy said he ‘saw several human perspectives in the story she told – that of physicians who were trying to manage the care of a complex patient in the midst of a pandemic crisis where the medical evidence on specific treatments continues to be debated in medical journals and in the lay press.’
He continued: ‘And the perspective of a nursing team trying to manage a set of critically ill patients in need of care who may have been intimidated by a knowledgeable patient who was using social media to voice her concerns and critique the care they were delivering.
‘All of these perspectives comprise a complex picture.’
His comments sparked an immediate backlash.
Erika Nicole Kendall, a personal trainer, took issue with the idea of ‘a complex patient’.
‘Whenever you need to evade accountability, always start with the most accessible stereotype available,’ she said.
‘This statement screams ‘she was an Angry Black woman.”
Dr Theresa Chapple, a public health advocate, said she felt ‘gaslit’ by the hospital’s explanation.
Uché Blackstock, an activist for health equity, spoke about the case on MSNBC, to acclaim from social media.
‘Tragic story of #DrSusanMoore,’ said one woman.
‘Everyone I know has a story about begging for pain meds after major surgery while ‘other’ patients given excess pills.’
Moore said in the seven-and-a-half-minute video that despite her complaints to medical staff that she was in pain, the doctors wanted to discharge her from the hospital.
She also said in the video that the doctors were dismissive of her complaints that she was experiencing difficulty breathing.
It was only after scans and tests proved her right that the doctors believed her.
A spokesperson for the IU Health system told DailyMail.com: ‘IU Health President and CEO Dennis Murphy has published a letter to all who have reached out and shown concern for the care of Dr. Susan Moore.
Moore said she was given inadequate treatment by Dr. Eric Bannec (above)
‘Murphy has called for a third-party review with a diverse panel of healthcare and diversity experts to understand both the technical aspects of the care provided and the human elements of the patient experience.
‘He says the external review can also illuminate ways the system can live up to its commitment to the equitable treatment of all patients.
‘IU Health has a commitment to enhance a culture of inclusion that seeks, welcomes and values all people and will conduct anti-racism, anti-bias civility and respect training for every team member.’
Murphy said that while he doesn’t believe ‘that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care,’ he acknowledged that ‘we may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients.’
In the video, Moore said that she was being given inadequate medical care due to her race.
‘This is the second worst day here at IU North,’ Moore says in the video from December 4.
‘Yesterday, Dr. [Eric] Bannec wanted to send me home.
‘At that time I had only received two treatments of the remdesivir. He says: ‘Ah, you don’t need it. You’re not even short of breath’.’
Moore continued: ‘I said, ‘Yes, I am’.’
‘Then he went on to say: ‘You don’t qualify.’
‘I must’ve because I’ve gotten two treatments,’ Moore said.
‘Then, he further stated: ‘You should just go home right now. And I don’t feel comfortable giving you anymore narcotics.’
‘I was in so much pain from my neck,’ she said. ‘My neck hurt so bad.’
‘I do not believe that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care’: Statement by Indiana University Health
Dennis M. Murphy, the president and CEO of IU Health, said medical staff treating Dr. Moore at IU North could have shown more ‘compassion and respect’
Like many others, I have watched the video of Dr. Susan Moore that she posted from her bed at our hospital. I am deeply saddened by her death and the loss her family is feeling.
Our hearts are with Dr. Moore’s family and friends.
I am even more saddened by the experience she described in the video.
It hurt me personally to see a patient reach out via social media because they felt their care was inadequate and their personal needs were not being heard.
I also saw several human perspectives in the story she told – that of physicians who were trying to manage the care of a complex patient in the midst of a pandemic crisis where the medical evidence on specific treatments continues to be debated in medical journals and in the lay press.
And the perspective of a nursing team trying to manage a set of critically ill patients in need of care who may have been intimidated by a knowledgeable patient who was using social media to voice her concerns and critique the care they were delivering.
All of these perspectives comprise a complex picture.
At the end of the day, I am left with the image of a distressed patient who was a member of our own profession – one we all hold dear and that exists to help serve and better the lives of others.
These factors make this loss doubly distressing.
After our preliminary medical quality review, I am fully confident in our medical team and their expertise to treat complex medical cases.
I do not believe that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care.
I am concerned, however, that we may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients.
I am worried that our care team did not have the time due to the burden of this pandemic to hear and understand patient concerns and questions.
There is still much that we need to learn through internal review.
Additionally, I am asking for an external review of this case.
We will have a diverse panel of healthcare and diversity experts conduct a thorough medical review of Dr. Moore’s concerns to address any potential treatment bias.
The construct of this review is to understand how we improve on not only the technical aspects of care, but also the more humanistic elements of the patient experience.
The external review also can illuminate ways that we as a system can ensure we live up to our commitment to the equitable treatment of all patients.
Over the last several years, I have pledged to promote racial justice and resist discrimination of any kind at IU Health.
My commitment to this pledge is reinforced as I repeatedly think about Dr. Moore’s voice.
I also have listened to the voices and experiences of our team members and patients of color over the past year.
They have shared experiences of discrimination by patients, families and colleagues.
They also shared their hopes for how IU Health could model for others how to be a more diverse, inclusive and just organization.
Dr. Moore’s public sharing of her experience is a sentinel moment to accelerate our forward movement.
This tragedy will not become a statistic in the COVID-19 crisis and it will serve as a marker of material improvements for patients of color.
Our organization is committed to equity. We know the work before us and will continue to seek regular improvements to what has been a long-standing societal issue.
We will focus on enhancing a culture of inclusion that seeks, welcomes and values all people.
We will transform our organization to be more diverse, equitable and anti-discriminatory.
And we will build meaningful and sustained partnerships to promote healthcare equity and reduce healthcare disparities, impact social determinants of health, and build more inclusive communities throughout the state.
None of this work was ever imagined to be easy or without visible signs of failure.
The key is to learn meaningfully from each interaction and, ultimately, get better every step of the way.
Dr. Moore’s words and image will stay with me every day and fuel my motivation to ensure that this organization becomes truly equitable in all dimensions.
I hope it serves as a collective call to action.
Dennis M. Murphy
President and Chief Executive Officer
Indiana University Health
Moore said that Bannec and the medical staff at IU Health North (above) did not believe her when she told them that she was in pain and needed medication.
When Bannec told her he would not give her pain medication, Moore said: ‘I was crushed.’
‘He made me feel like I was a drug addict,’ she said. ‘And he knew I was a physician.’
Moore added: ‘I don’t take narcotics. I was hurt.’
She said she was ‘left wanting’ after speaking to a patient advocate who told her: ‘There’s not much I can do.’
Moore said she then asked to be sent to another hospital ‘if they’re not going to treat me properly.’
She said that she was then administered a CT scan of her neck and lungs which showed inflammation in those areas, confirming her earlier complaints of pain and discomfort.
Those scans finally convinced the doctors to give her pain medication.
‘You have to show proof that you have something wrong with you in order for you to get the medicine,’ Moore said.
Moore, a physician who lived in Indianapolis, leaves behind a 19-year-old son and her two parents, both of whom are suffering from dementia
‘I put forth and I maintain if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that.’
Moore added: ‘That man (Bannec) never came back and apologized.’
She then said that it took staff more than four hours to administer pain medication treatment.
‘I have been in pain since 7am, you know,’ Moore told the nurse.
‘I can’t be here every five minutes,’ the nurse is reported to have responded to Moore.
‘No, you were here once in four hours,’ Moore said.
‘That is not how you treat patients,’ she said. ‘Period.’
‘I don’t trust this hospital and I’m asking to be transferred.’
Moore also said that Bannec told her that if she stayed in the hospital she would eventually be discharged at 10pm the next Saturday.
‘Who does that?’ Moore said of being sent home from the hospital late at night.
When the nurse told Moore that she was ‘marching in Black Lives Matter,’ Moore responded: ‘I told her that I don’t believe none of that. Not one bit. Not one iota.’
Moore’s death was confirmed by her 19-year-old son, Henry Muhammed (pictured left with his mother)
‘He wouldn’t even know how to march,’ Moore said of the nurse. ‘[He] probably can’t even spell it.’
‘This is how black people get killed, when you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves,’ she said.
‘I had to talk to somebody, maybe the media, somebody, to let people know how I’m being treated up in this place.’
Moore said that the physician who treated her knew that she was a doctor.
‘[Bannec] didn’t want the black doctor to have no medicine,’ she said. ‘Nothing.’
Moore then said that the nurse bragged that it was ‘because of him’ that she was getting pain medication.
She later posted an update on Facebook saying that she had spoken to the IU healthcare system’s chief medical officer and that her pain was being ‘properly managed.’
Moore said the CMO ‘stated that there will be some diversity training’ and that they were ‘working on’ getting an apology from Bannec.
After she was sent home by IU North, she was back in a different hospital – Ascension-St. Vincent in Carmel, Indiana – within 12 hours on December 7.
Moore said she experienced a spike in temperature and a drop in her blood pressure.
On her Facebook page, Moore described having to ‘beg’ the doctors to give her medicine to treat the pain in her neck
She accused the medical staff at IU Health North of ‘trying to kill’ her
After she was sent home by IU North, she was back in a different hospital – Ascension-St. Vincent (above) in Carmel, Indiana – within 12 hours on December 7. Moore said she experienced a spike in temperature and a drop in her blood pressure
‘Spiked a temperature of 103 and my blood pressure plummeted to 80/60 with a heart rate of 132,’ she wrote in an update on Facebook.
‘Those people were trying to kill me,’ Moore said of the medical staff at IU North.
‘Clearly everyone has to agree they (discharged) me way too soon.’
She gave a much better assessment of her care at Ascencion-St. Vincent.
‘They are now treating me for a bacterial pneumonia as well as Covid pneumonia,’ she said.
‘I am getting very compassionate care. They are offering me pain medicine.’
On December 10, Moore’s condition deteriorated to the point where she had to be intubated. She died on Sunday, two days after she was placed on a ventilator.
Moore’s 19-year-old son, Henry Muhammed, confirmed his mother’s death to The New York Times.
He said that by the time his mother was placed on a ventilator, she was coughing so much that she could barely speak.
When doctors intubated her on December 10, they set up a Zoom call in her room so a dozen relatives could speak to her while she lay unconscious.
On Twitter, there was outrage in reaction to Moore’s death. Danielle Doyle said Moore was ‘gaslit and stigmatized when asking for effective pain medication’
Another Twitter user wrote that ‘HOW she died is unacceptable’
A woman who says that she was a classmate of Moore at the University of Michigan said that ‘we must all pay attention and make this better’
‘Black people are still being mistreated by the healthcare system, even those who WORK WITHIN the system,’ tweeted one Twitter user
Dr. Carmen Brown wrote: ‘She had to advocate for herself and was STILL ignored.’
A GoFundMe crowdfunding effort started for Moore’s family has already raised more than $120,000
Doctors who followed Moore’s case from afar cannot definitively say that the claims of inadequate treatment at IU North directly led to her death.
Still, observers said her experience at the hospital is an all-too common occurrence for African American patients, many of whom do not get adequate care.
Muhammed also told the Times that his mother suffered from an underlying condition – sarcoidosis.
He said his mother was frequently admitted to the hospital to be treated for the condition, which is an inflammatory disease that attacks the lungs.
Muhammed said that his mother routinely needed to struggle to get adequate care whenever she was ill.
‘Nearly every time she went to the hospital she had to advocate for herself, fight for something in some way, shape or form, just to get baseline, proper care,’ he said.
In the United States, black people and Latinos are almost three times more likely to die from COVID-19 then whites, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), which cited economic disparities.
A GoFundMe crowdfunding effort started for Moore’s family has already raised more than $120,000.