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'IU Health did not contribute to her untimely death': External review of Dr. Susan Moore's death released

Posted at 1:40 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 13:50:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An external review panel found that IU Health lacked empathy and compassion in the care it gave a Black Indiana doctor who died with COVID-19 in December.

Dr. Susan Moore complained of racist treatment from IU Health North Hospital in a series of viral videos made just days before her death on Dec. 20.

"It is clear to me that Dr. Moore deserved to be listened to and for her concerns to be understood," Dennis Murphy, IU Health's president and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday.

In the same statement, Murphy released the findings of a six-person review panel that determined IU Health workers were not to blame for Moore's death.

"The medical management and technical care Dr. Moore received at IU Health did not contribute to her untimely death," the panel found. "However, there was a lack of empathy and compassion shown in the delivery of her care."

The panel also found that "cultural competence was not practiced by all providers and several caregivers lacked empathy, compassion and awareness of implicit racial bias in the delivery and communication of Dr. Moore’s care."

Murphy said the health system is following the panel's advice and working to become more culturally aware by improving the way its caregivers communicate and advocate for patients.

The hospital is also boasting its training on diversity, equity and inclusion to improve the cultural competence in its hospitals, Murphy said.

"We owe it to our patients to always show up for them, to treat them with dignity and respect, to appreciate their perspectives and to validate their feelings when they are in our care," Murphy said. "We did not live up to these values with Dr. Moore and acknowledge that we have more to do to become a more diverse, inclusive and anti-racist health system."

Murphy called for the external review after Moore's videos went viral and made national headlines.

"Why do I have to prove that there’s something wrong with me in order for my pain to be treated," Moore wrote on Facebook in the post accusing IU Health of racial bias.

Moore was dressed in a hospital gown and spoke from her bed at the Carmel hospital. The doctor treating her didn't feel "comfortable" giving her any more narcotics for the pain, she said. The doctor, Moore said, told her "you should just go home right now."

"My neck hurt so bad. I was crushed," Moore said, speaking in a low, raspy voice and choking back tears. "He made me feel like I was a drug addict, and he knew I was a physician."

Moore said she believed this would not have happened if she was white.

"This is how Black people get killed when you send them home and they don't know how to fight for themselves," Moore said on the video. "I had to talk to somebody to let people know how I'm being treated up in this place."

"Being Black up in here," Moore said. "This is what happens."

Moore was sent home but said her health quickly deteriorated. After about 12 hours, she said she went back to the hospital, this time she went to Ascension St. Vincent Hospital-Indianapolis.

Moore died on Dec. 20.

IU Health President Murphy responded to Moore's video and her withering criticism by calling for the external review.

On Wednesday, Murphy said the hospital system will take steps including hiring more patient advocates, providing better training on compassionate care and launching better training on diversity issues, unconscious bias and anti-racism aimed at fostering an inclusive culture.

"We believe the findings and recommendations of this external review will drive forward a plan of action for IU Health to become a more inclusive, equitable and respectful healthcare system," Murphy said.

"Again, we express our sincerest condolences to Dr. Moore’s family, friends and loved ones... We look forward to providing regular updates on our progress and ask for the support of our patients, families, team members, board, partners, local communities and allies in helping to hold us accountable for driving change."

To add to this, Indiana Rep. Robin Shackleford (D) put forward a bill that would have required cultural training and competence awareness for health professionals, House Bill 1333, but it did not make it out of committee. Here is what Rep. Shackleford said:

"Not only do we want to see this take place at IU, we want to see this take place statewide..."I think that is one of the things that drove her to film what was taking place with her and how she was treated. I'm thinking she's thinking that if me as a doctor, an educated woman, black woman is getting treated liked this, how are my family members getting treated, how are my patients getting treated, how are my community members getting treated..." "We want this to be taken statewide and everyone has to do this type of training because we want to make sure Dr. Moore's death is not in vain, that there are state changes not only at IU Health but making sure our whole healthcare system is changed throughout Indiana."

You can read the full statement from Murphy below:

WRTV will update this article with more information as it develops.