A Black doctor who has since died from COVID-19 said she wasn’t treated properly by hospitalists and believed racism played a role in her poor care.
Susan Moore, MD, tested positive for COVID-19 on November 29 and was admitted to IU Health North Hospital in Carmel, Indiana, but soon began posting Facebook updates and a video with her concerns about her treatment.
She said she presented with a respiratory rate in the 30s, a heart rate in the 150s, and a fever of 101.5° F. She ultimately had to “beg for remdesivir” because her doctor, Eric Bannec, MD, said her chest x-ray appeared 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, [and] a new left lower lobe infiltrate,” she wrote in her Facebook post.
After that, she got two infusions of remdesivir, but wrote that Bannec said she didn’t qualify for more because she wasn’t short of breath — which she says she was.
She charges that Bannec was also hesitant to give her narcotics for severe neck pain and that he said she could be discharged home.
Moore continued to advocate for herself, speaking with a patient advocate. Despite a disappointing discussion, she said a STAT CT angiogram was subsequently ordered.
“The CT went down a little into my lungs and you could see new pulmonary infiltrates and new lymphadenopathy all through my neck,” compared with the December 1 image, she said in the video.
Subsequently, she was given pain medication. “Why do I have to prove that there’s something wrong with me in order for my pain to be treated?” she asked. “I put forward and I maintain if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that.”
Moore then said she was able to speak with the hospital system’s chief medical officer and was assured that “all my concerns will be addressed and that he will personally see that I get the best care possible.”
She got a new pulmonologist and a new care plan, which included an increased dose of dexamethasone. Her fever subsided, her blood pressure was slightly high but stable, and her heart rate was in the normal range. She said her oxygen saturation dipped down to 89: “I do feel short of breath but I am off the oxygen. … And more than likely I’ll go home today.”
She was out of the hospital for no longer than 12 hours when her fever spiked to 103° F and her blood pressure dropped to 80/60 mm Hg — so she was admitted to another hospital, Ascension St. Vincent in Carmel, Indiana.
“Everyone has to agree they discharged me way too soon,” Moore posted on Facebook regarding IU Health North Hospital.
“This is how Black people get killed, when you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves,” she said in the video.
Her final update was that she was on BiPAP and being transferred to the ICU.
Moore died on Sunday, December 20. She was 52 years old and left behind her 19-year-old son, Henry, and her two parents, both of whom have dementia. According to a GoFundMe set up by Alicia Sanders, MD, who was in contact with Moore during the last weeks of her life, she was the primary caregiver for all three of her relatives.
In a statement, IU Health said it couldn’t comment on “a specific patient, their medical history or conditions,” but that as “an organization committed to equity and reducing racial disparities in healthcare, we take accusations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every allegation.”
“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,” the statement continued.
Ascension St. Vincent Hospital didn’t return a request for comment.
Both Moore and Bannec have current licenses in Indiana without any sanctions.
Bannec’s Google Reviews have already been blasted with one-star reviews by dozens of angry commenters enraged over Moore’s case.
Moore’s video has been viewed around the world, with Carmen Brown, MD, an ob/gyn in Australia, commenting that Moore “didn’t have to die like that.”
“She had to advocate for herself and was STILL ignored,” Brown tweeted. “Do you see how terrifying this is for people who don’t have a voice?”
Omolara Uwemedimo, MD, MPH, a physician in New York, tweeted that Moore’s “medical degree did not save her from the racism that she endured.”
“[Three] weeks after her diagnosis, she is no longer with us and one can’t help but wonder whether the outcome would’ve been different, if she did not undergo repeated delays in care that were undoubtedly due to her being a Black woman, and the lack of respect & trust that we often face,” Uwemedimo tweeted.