Susan Moore, a Black physician based in Indiana, has died of covid after complaining of racist treatment from the white doctor who was treating her for the virus. She was 52 years old.
Moore posted a video to Facebook earlier this month detailing the insufficient care she believed she was receiving. Moore said she had been admitted to the hospital in late November after testing positive for the virus, with symptoms including a high fever and high respiratory rate. The doctor gave her Remdesivir only after she “begged” for it, according to Moore. She said she then had to demand a CT scan of her lungs because the doctor denied that she was short of breath and said he wasn’t comfortable giving her any more narcotics.
Even when the scan showed pulmonary infiltrates and new lymphadenopathy Moore said she had to wait hours for pain medication. Moore said the doctor made her feel like she was “a drug addict”—and he knew she was a physician herself, she added.
Later, when she spoke to a patient advocate about the quality of her care and asked to be transferred to a different hospital, the advocate said it was fine for her to be discharged.
“This is how Black people get killed, when you send them home and they don’t know how to fight for themselves,” Moore said.
Moore later wrote that her pain was being “properly managed” after raising her complaints to higher-ups in the hospital. Eventually she stabilized enough that she went home, but 12 hours later she was hospitalized again—this time in a different hospital—where her condition worsened.
According to the New York Times, doctors intubated Moore on Dec. 10 and called her relatives on Zoom, though she appeared to be unconscious. By Dec. 18, she had become completely reliant on a ventilator. At that point her son visited the hospital with his grandparents to say goodbye. Moore died on Sunday.
From beginning to end, Moore’s story, as she tells it, tracks with everything we know about how covid disproportionately affects people of color and everything we know about the long history of racial disparities in healthcare. An August report on the spread of covid showed that Black Americans were contracting the virus at three times the rate of their white counterparts, and dying of it twice as often. Other findings have shown that Black people in every age category were dying of the virus at about the same rate as white people more than a decade their senior.
In a statement following Moore’s death, the hospital said it was “committed to equity and reducing racial disparities in healthcare, we take accusations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every allegation.”
“I put forward and I maintain, if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that,” Moore said in the Facebook video. The white doctor who initially treated her “never came back and apologized,” she said.