On December 4, Dr. Susan Moore posted a video to Facebook to document the mistreatment she said she was receiving from colleagues at the Indiana University Hospital North in Carmel, Indiana.
She was diagnosed with COVID-19 on November 29 and was later admitted to the hospital. In the video, Dr. Moore was connected to an oxygen tube, barely able to speak and denied pain medication from a white physician. Dr. Moore claims the physician was downplaying her pain.
Dr. Moore was released from the hospital and had to be readmitted to a different hospital where her condition worsened. She died at the age of 52 on Sunday (December 27) from coronavirus complications.
Her death gained national attention, raising questions about the treatment she received while at the Indiana University Hospital. The hospital’s CEO, Dennis Murphy released a statement in which he defended the action of staff and accused the deceased Dr. Moore of “intimidating” staff.
Murphy stated that he “saw several human perspectives in the story she told –– that of the 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 added “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.”
Murphy’s use of the word “intimidated” as well as his characterization of Dr. Moore as “difficult” or “complex” raised backlash from those who recognize the terms as stereotypes often handed to Black women.
“Whenever you need to evade accountability, always start with the most accessible stereotype available,” Erika Nicole Kendall, a personal trainer, tweeted. “This statement screams ‘she was an Angry Black woman,’” she said.
Murphy responded to the critique by calling for an external review of care by a third party in order to “understand both the technical aspects of the care provided and the human elements of the patient experience,” according to a statement by a spokesperson for the IU Health System to the DailyMail.com.
Murphy said that he doesn’t feel “that we failed the technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore’s care,” but noted that “we may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients.”
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