Late last year, Dr. Susan Moore, a Black doctor in Indiana, died following multiple hospitalizations for complications from COVID-19.
While her death was another reminder of the seriousness of this pandemic, what has stirred controversy is the fact that Dr. Moore said she was mistreated and delayed proper care at the hospital at which she was being treated because she was Black.
The Association of Black Women Physicians, of which I’m a member, put out the following statement about this tragedy, and I’d like to share it with you:
“The irony of Dr. Susan Moore’s video shocked us. In advocating for herself, she advocated for others as her last act of service. The Association of Black Women Physicians (ABWP), the longest continuously operating professional association of Black women physicians in the US, extends our heartfelt condolences to her loved ones.
We agree with Dr. Aletha Maybek, ‘If a physician can’t be heard by her own peers to save her life, then who will listen?’ Dr. Moore’s credentials and experience as a physician did not help her as she repeatedly advocated for herself up until her demise. Dr. Moore’s death will be another disproportionate statistic in the COVID Pandemic that egregiously displays healthcare inequities in our broken system.
As physicians familiar with COVID-19 treatment, we challenge the notion that she received technically excellent care.
The need for accountability by the Indiana healthcare system and the larger medical community, in the death of Dr. Moore is a given. Failure to investigate the circumstances surrounding Dr. Moore’s care and put forth corrective anti-racist action sends a message that her mistreatment and subsequent death is inconsequential.
Because this is the second hospital death of a Black physician in less than 90 days, we call for mandated patient advocacy, anti-racist policies, accountability, leadership and funding to ensure success of these initiatives.
We charge Insurance Commissioner Stephen W. Robertson to implement emergency regulations defining 30-day pneumonia readmissions as a quality of care problem, and maternal deaths as a never event, permitting health plans and the Department of Health to aggressively investigate. Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is two times greater than the national average. Poor healthcare quality is costly and affects all of us. The Indiana Department of Insurance and the Indiana State Department of Health must collaborate to develop financial sanctions to ensure equitable outcomes. If lacking this authority, we ask Governor Eric Holcomb to call for a special legislative session to enact necessary reform and rule making.”