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Critics: Hospital CEO's Response to Black Doctor's Death 'Ridiculous'

Dennis Murphy cites a 'complex picture' leading to death of Dr. Susan Moore, but others push back
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2021 12:30 PM CST

(Newser) – The head of an Indiana hospital has addressed the allegations of Dr. Susan Moore, a Black medical doctor who died last month from coronavirus complications after accusing a doctor and other hospital staff of being biased in their treatment of her—but his comments have only fueled the controversy. In a Dec. 24 statement, Dennis M. Murphy, president and CEO of Indiana University Health, said he was "saddened" about the experience Moore relayed, and that it "hurt me personally" to see Moore reach out on social media because she'd felt ignored by medical staff. Then he added he'd seen "several human perspectives" in Moore's story, including that of doctors who'd been treating a "complex patient," and of nurses "who may have been intimidated by a knowledgeable patient who was using social media to voice her concerns and critique the care they were delivering."

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All of that combined to create a "complex picture," he noted. He acknowledged that his team "may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for," but that they were simply overwhelmed by their responsibilities during the pandemic. Moore's 19-year-old son, Henry Muhammed, isn't buying Murphy's explainer. "I don't understand how knowing your medical history is intimidating to a nurse or hospital staff," Muhammed tells ABC News, adding that the only hospital official he's so far heard from personally is the chaplain. ABC and the Indianapolis Star cite other reactions to Murphy's response, with many calling it a form of victim-blaming. "It's absolutely terrifying for nurses to interact with ... doctors," one commenter snarked. One New York public health advocate was more straightforward. "It's honestly a disgrace," Christie VanHorne tells ABC. "To say that the nurses were intimidated by the patient, it's absolutely ridiculous when she was just trying to advocate for herself." (Read more bias stories.)

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