Her White doctor didn’t believe she was short of breath, she said — even though he knew he was treating a fellow licensed physician. Staff at the hospital near Indianapolis attempted to discharge her early, Moore said. And her pleas for medication to quiet pain in her neck was met with sneers, she said.
“I was crushed. He made me feel like a drug addict. And he knew I was a physician. I don’t take narcotics,” Moore recalled in a Dec. 4 video viewed by millions. “I put forward and I maintain if I was White, I wouldn’t have to go through that.”
￼ Update 7 On biPap being transferred to ICU update 6 I was home for less than 12 hours. Spiked a temperature of 103 and my blood pressure plummeted to 80/60 with a heart rate of 132. I’m back in the hospital, a different hospital Saint Vincent Carmel.￼￼ Those people were trying to kill me. Clearly everyone has to agree they discharge me way too soon. They are now treating me for a bacterial pneumonia as well as Covid pneumonia. I am getting very compassionate care. They are offering me pain medicine ￼ Update #5 I am home in my own bed❤️￼￼ Update #4 ￼ No fever this morning. Oxygen saturation deep down to 89%. Blood pressure slightly high but stable. Heart rate is in the normal range. I do feel short of breath but I am off the oxygen. I’m only on Decadron now. And more than likely I’ll go home today. Update #3 I now have a pulmonologist who has adjusted my care plan. My pain is been adequately treated. The chief medical officer has stated that there will be some diversity training and they’re working on getting me an apology from Dr. bannec. I continue to be fever free and this is day three of that. Still short of breath and in generally weak ￼￼￼ Update #2 This is Dr Susan Moore and I’ve spoken to the CMO of the IU healthcare system. He assures me that all my concerns will be addressed and that he will personally see that I get the best care possible. My pain is being properly managed now. I remain on oxygen 2 L and I’m now coughing up blood. I have spoken to pulmonology and they are going to increase My Decadron. Update #1 The CMO of IU Medical healthcare system ￼has been contacted. I found out that ￼Dr. bannec has a poor reputation dating as far back as three years. ￼ I did receive IV pain medication which helped tremendously last night The nurse taking care of me last night and the tech were both African-American. They brought in the nurse from IU Methodist downtown Indianapolis.￼￼ I am so scared please give me some advice on how to proceed. I am admitted at IU north with COVID-19￼ 11/22/2020 Tested negative for COVID-19 11/29/2020 Tested positive for COVID-19 I presented with respiratory rate in the 30s, heart rate in the 150s and a fever of 101.5￼ I had to beg to get the Remdesivir because Dr. Bannec said my chest x-ray was normal￼￼￼. I then had to beg for a CT of my chest which I finally got and it showed large mediastinal lymphadenopathy right lower lobe infiltrate in a new left lower lobe infiltrate. After receiving two infusions of the Remdesivir dr. Bannec said I don’t qualify, I’m not short of breath, he doesn’t know why my neck hurts and he doesn’t feel comfortable giving me any narcotics. All I can do is cry I was in so much pain. He said you can just go home right now. Of note he did not even listen to my lungs he didn’t touch me in any way. He performed no physical exam. I told him you cannot tell me how I feel. Next thing I know stat stat CT angiogram was ordered for my neck which showed new infiltrates in my lungs superiorly and new pleural effusion since December 1 in addition to new mediastinal lymphadenopathy. Next thing I know I’m getting a phone call saying what can we get for your pain. Why do I have to prove that there’s something wrong with me in order for my pain to be treated. I have informed the patient advocate￼￼￼￼￼Posted by Susan Moore on Friday, December 4, 2020
Moore, 52, died this week, another victim of a virus that is ravaging African Americans and exposing racial disparities and discrimination rampant in the nation’s health-care system. Her video, first shared in physicians’ Facebook groups and more broadly after Moore’s death, has become a rallying cry to confront bias in the medical system.
Indiana University Health System, which operates the hospital, declined to comment on the details of Moore’s treatment, but said it would implement “new anti-racism, anti-bias and civility training for all team members.”
Doctors who followed the case cannot directly link Moore’s death to the problems she recounted in her early treatment. But Moore’s story of her pain being dismissed reinforces what studies have repeatedly shown: Even taking wealth, education and insurance status into account, Black patients receive worse medical care and face worse outcomes.
African Americans are routinely undertreated for pain compared with White people who have similar medical conditions. Physicians are more prone to racial bias as they become burned out, a particularly salient finding as the pandemic leaves hospitals overburdened and staff overworked.
Beyoncé and Serena Williams shared their stories of near-fatal pregnancy complications, showing how international stardom didn’t shield them from high rates of maternal complications facing African Americans. Moore’s death comes weeks after another Black female Indiana doctor — Chaniece Wallace — died shortly after childbirth.
“We know from studies that racism doesn’t stop because of your socioeconomic status or education status,” said Loucresie Rupert, a doctor who founded Physician Women SOAR, a group devoted to addressing racial discrimination in medicine. “To see that in real time and to see the consequences, that has really shaken up a lot of the Black physicians I know.”
Indiana University Health offered condolences for Moore.
“As an organization committed to equity and reducing racial disparities in healthcare, we take accusations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every allegation,” the statement said. “Treatment options are often agreed upon and reviewed by medical experts from a variety of specialties, and we stand by the commitment and expertise of our caregivers and the quality of care delivered to our patients every day.”
In her video, Moore, speaking with the precision of a physician describing a patient’s plight, said doctors were ready to discharge her after only two doses of remdesivir, an antiviral drug prescribed by some physicians, and said she no longer needed the medication. She said a CT scan validated her reports of pain by showing infections and inflammation in her neck and lungs. After doctors agreed to prescribe pain medication, Moore said she waited two-and-a-half hours to receive doses, and a nurse snapped when she pointed out the delay.
She grew incensed as she recalled how the same nurse later told her he marched in a Black Lives Matter protest.
“He wouldn’t even know how to march, probably can’t spell it,” Moore said, before striking a more somber note.
“This is how Black people get killed. When you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves.”
Her video sparked an uproar in a physicians Facebook group, with some members offering assistance and intervention on her behalf.
Christina Council, a primary care physician in Maryland and member of the Facebook group, said she thought about a White colleague who promptly received morphine when complaining of severe headaches, in contrast to Moore having to wait for a CT scan. And she thought about the African Americans who cannot rely on hundreds of medical professionals to rally to their side.
“What about those individuals who don’t have that or don’t know how to advocate for themselves?” Council said. “This is why we have such a mistrust, a distrust, of the health-care system, especially in minority populations.”
Moore periodically provided updates on her Facebook post with her video, noting that her care improved and a chief medical officer at the hospital promised diversity training for the staff.
Less than 12 hours after Moore returned home, her fever and heart rate spiked, and she went to a different hospital for care.
“Those people were trying to kill me,” she wrote. “Clearly everyone has to agree they discharge[d] me way too soon.”
In her final update, she said she was being transferred to the intensive care unit with breathing support.
Moore’s relatives could not be reached for comment. Her son Henry Muhammed told the New York Times that his mother had to advocate previously for proper medical care when seeking treatment for inflammatory lung disease.
Moore’s condition deteriorated Dec. 10 when she was intubated, Muhammed said, and she died Sunday, two days after being placed on a ventilator.
Some doctors have been incensed to see other physicians cast doubt on Moore’s story by saying doctors are sometimes reluctant to provide pain medication to White patients or that she may not have met clinical criteria for some treatments.
Such comments targeting a Black doctor reinforce how African Americans are frequently doubted and viewed with skepticism in medical offices, they said.
“There was a non-Black male physician who said, ‘In my experience, when doctors treat other doctors they go above and beyond,’ ” Rupert said. “And I was like exactly, in your experience. This is how racism works.”
Kadijah Ray, an Illinois doctor who co-founded Physician Women SOAR, said Moore’s story illustrates the need to expand the ranks of Black physicians, starting as early as high school to identify a new generation of Black doctors.
“We have these tragic instances, and everyone is in an uproar and it goes away until next time,” Ray said. “We need to have serious conversations about what to do to undo it.”