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IU Health selects national experts to lead external review into racial bias case

Dr. Susan Moore recorded a video documenting insufficient treatment she received while suffering from COVID-19.

INDIANAPOLIS — The treatment of an Indiana doctor who died from COVID-19 is prompting both an external hospital review and proposed changes in state law.

13 Investigates has details about the national experts chosen to examine the care of Dr. Susan Moore and a new proposal that could mandate bias training for health care workers statewide.

Two distinguished national experts will lead an external six-member panel to review whether an Indianapolis doctor suffering from COVID-19 failed to get proper treatment as a result of racial bias.

Moore posted a disturbing video in December from her hospital bed at IU Health North Hospital. On oxygen, she said she was denied treatment and pain medication.

"He made me feel like a drug addict and he knew I was a physician," she said, describing encounters with her treating physician.

In a statement, IU Health said:

"The issues surrounding the care of Dr. Susan Moore are serious, and very troubling," and that "The panel's review will focus on three key aspects of Dr. Moore's experience: clinical care, patient communication and potential bias."

Dr. Jeanette South-Paul and Dr. David Wilkes were chosen from a nationwide search.

South-Paul is chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and has expertise in socio-cultural issues in health care. She's also a former colonel in the U.S. Army.

Wilkes, the dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, is a pulmonary specialist. He also is a former executive associate dean of research affairs at the IU School of Medicine.

The entire panel consists of three men and three women - four Blacks, one Hispanic member and one white panelist.

"I am happy with the external panel that they have chosen," said State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis), who is part of Indiana's Black Legislative Caucus. The caucus and the Indiana Minority Health Coalition have been working to improve healthcare diversity since last summer.

She believes the panel's work could be groundbreaking in creating change for all Indiana hospitals.

"We have been fighting for years in knowing that disparities have existed between health care providers and their minority patients," said Shackleford.

She said the task force created over the disparity in COVID-19 outcomes among minorities recommended more legislation to address implicit bias.

Shackleford is introducing new mandatory cultural implicit bias and diversity training certification for all Indiana health care professionals. The annual requirement would be part of their licensing.

"When you are trying to change people's mindsets and their behavior and trying to take out things that they have learned, you're going to have to do it on a continual basis," she said, explaining why the training would be required once a year.

If passed, the training would cost each professional $5 per year and would generate about a million dollars to keep the curriculum up to date. Shackleford said the program is based largely on a similar program in New York.

Meanwhile, the external review will take several weeks to conclude. Before the results are made public, they will first go to the family of Dr. Moore.