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IU Health Review Of Susan Moore's Death Says She Received Adequate Care, But Lack Of 'Empathy'

Alicia Sanders and Rashad Elby
Dr. Susan Moore died last December from complications related to COVID-19. In a viral Facebook video, she alleged racial bias played a role in inadequate care she received at IU Health North Hospital.

An external review on the death of a Black female doctor found the “medical management and technical care” she received from Indiana University Health did not contribute to her death. But the review also found a lack of empathy and compassion in the delivery of her care, according to a news release from IU Health on Wednesday.

Dr. Susan Moore died last December from complications related to COVID-19. In a viral Facebook video, she alleged racial bias played a role in inadequate care she received at IU Health North Hospital.

In the Dec. 4 video, Moore said she was treated “like a drug addict” by a white doctor when she asked for pain medication and was denied Remdesivir— an antiviral used to treat COVID-19.

“I put forth, and I maintain, if I was white I wouldn’t have to go through that,” Moore said in the video.

She died weeks later, after being moved to a different hospital.

The external review panel was made up of six national and local health care experts — four of whom are Black. The panel found cultural competence was not practiced by all providers and several lacked awareness of implicit racial bias in Moore’s care.

The review panel interviewed more than 30 individuals involved directly or indirectly with Moore’s care. The panel also reviewed medical documents, IU Health’s internal review of the case and other information on the organization.

IU Health President Dennis Murphy said he accepted the panel’s findings. He said providers may not have fully understood Moore’s needs and concerns.

"I think the core issue was, were they listening to a patient and understanding and fully appreciating the concerns that they were expressing?" Murphy said. "Were you providing whole person care versus treating it as just solely a disease or a condition?"

The panel recommended that IU Health improve the delivery of patient care and increase cultural competence and awareness of implicit bias within the organization.

Murphy said these recommendations align with how IU Health hopes to move forward.

“We are extremely committed to becoming a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive organization,” Murphy said.

All staff members will undergo diversity, inclusion and equity training and assessment of these efforts will be part of performance reviews. The organization will also hire a chief equity health officer.

The law firm Langer & Langer represents Moore’s estate and released a statement on the review and IU Health’s response.

In the statement, Moore’s son, Henry, said he “appreciates the genuine thoughtfulness and commitment to change that IU Health has promised to pursue. It is his greatest hope that his mother’s legacy brings about a fair, culturally accountable health care system.”

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus also released a statement following the release of the review.

In the statement, Democratic state Rep. Robin Shackleford said the caucus is disheartened with the panel’s findings and applauded the panel’s recommendations.

"Everyone deserves to be cared for with compassion and respect,” Shackleford said. "These recommendations reaffirm what the IBLC has been advocating for and what the Indiana Minority Health Disparities Task Force recommended in 2020: Indiana's health care professionals need cultural awareness and implicit racial bias training."

Shackleford introduced House Bill 1333 this legislative session — which would have required health care professionals to complete two hours of cultural awareness and competence training and impose a penalty for noncompliance and require the state health data center to maintain statistics concerning race and ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status.

The bill did not receive a hearing.

Darian Benson is a reporter for Side Effects Public Media and WFYI in Indianapolis. She can be reached at