Lying in a hospital bed with an oxygen tube hugging her nostrils, the Black patient gazed into her smartphone and, with a strained voice, complained of an experience all too common among Black people in America.
Susan Moore, the patient, said the white doctor at the hospital in suburban Indianapolis where she was being treated for Covid-19 had downplayed her complaints of pain. He told her that he felt uncomfortable giving her more narcotics, she said, and suggested that she would be discharged.
“I was crushed,” she said in a video posted to Facebook. “He made me feel like I was a drug addict.”
In her post, which has since circulated widely on social media, she showed a command of complicated medical terminology and an intricate knowledge of treatment protocols as she detailed the ways in which she had advocated for herself with the medical staff. She knew what to ask for because she, too, was a medical doctor.
But that was not enough to get her treatment and respect she said she deserved. “I put forth and I maintain if I was white,” she said in the video, “I wouldn’t have to go through that.”
After Dr. Moore, 52, complained about her treatment, she received care that she said “adequately treated” her pain. She was eventually sent home, and on Sunday, just more than two weeks after posting the video, Dr. Moore died of complications from Covid-19, said her son, Henry Muhammed.
Dr. Moore’s case has generated outrage and renewed calls to grapple with biased medical treatment of Black patients. Voluminous research suggests that Black patients often receive treatment inferior to their white counterparts, particularly when it comes to relieving pain.
“It’s had a huge impact,” said Dr. Christina Council, a primary care physician in Maryland who is Black, of Dr. Moore’s experience. “Sometimes when we think about medical bias it seems so far removed. We can sit there and say, ‘OK, it can happen to someone that may be poorer.’ But when you actually see it happen to a colleague and you’re seeing her in the hospital bed and literally pleading for her life, it just hits a different way and really hits home and says, ‘Wow, we need to do something.’”
A spokesman for Indiana University Health, the hospital system where Dr. Moore complained of poor treatment, said in a statement that he could not comment on specific cases because of privacy laws.
“As an organization committed to equity and reducing racial disparities in health care, we take accusations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every allegation,” the statement said. It added that “we stand by the commitment and expertise of our caregivers and the quality of care delivered to our patients every day.”
An intricate mix of socioeconomic and health factors have made Covid-19 particularly devastating for Black and Latino communities. Black people have died at 3.6 times the rate of white people, and Latinos at 2.5 times the rate of white people, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution.
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Source: New York Times