Former Brigham doctor accused of performing unnecessary pelvic and breast exams

Health

Dr. Derrick Todd parted ways with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and agreed last month to stop practicing medicine.

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
John Tlumacki/Boston Globe Staff, File

A former Brigham and Women’s Hospital rheumatologist is embroiled in a legal battle amid accusations that he performed medically unnecessary breast and pelvic exams.

First reported by The Boston Globe, the allegations came to light after Dr. Derrick Todd parted ways with Brigham and Women’s at the end of July. Todd’s resignation followed an investigation into complaints made against the prominent physician, according to Dr. Charles Morris, BWH chief medical officer and senior vice president of medical affairs.

“After receiving two anonymous complaints about Dr. Derrick Todd, we immediately launched an investigation and then placed Dr. Todd on administrative leave once we learned more,” Morris said in a statement. “We made a decision to terminate his employment after the conclusion of that initial investigation.”

Todd opted to resign once Brigham and Women’s decided to end his employment, a hospital spokesperson clarified. 

An incident report filed with the state Department of Public Health and obtained by the Globe states that the hospital received complaints from two people who identified themselves as physicians and raised concerns about another doctor, later identified as Todd. One complaint questioned whether a pelvic examination had been appropriate, according to the Globe

The hospital later heard from two patients who had “concerns with breast examinations” the doctor performed, and a third “who expressed concerns regarding repeated pelvic examinations,” the newspaper reported, citing the incident report. 

In Todd’s online profile, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine describes some of the allegations made against him as “gynecology related” and “improper choice of treatment.” 

Todd will defend himself ‘vigorously’ against allegations, attorney says

Last month, Todd agreed to stop practicing medicine in Massachusetts and in other states, signing a voluntary agreement that does not admit to or acknowledge any wrongdoing on his part.

However, his legal troubles don’t end there; Todd is also facing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court, filed on Sept. 29. The complaint names Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, where Todd was chief of clinical rheumatology, and Charles River Medical Associates, where he was a rheumatologist and primary care physician. 

The lawyer who brought the suit, Stacey Pietrowicz, told the Globe she represents more than one woman who was allegedly “abused by Dr. Todd under the guise of medical care, both at Charles Medical River Associates in Framingham and multiple Brigham and Women’s Hospital locations.”

A judge has sealed the case documents pending an Oct. 17 hearing. Boston.com has reached out to Pietrowicz for comment. 

“There is every indication these women are not alone,” Pietrowicz told the Globe. “This lawsuit will expose the facts surrounding the intimidation and sexual harassment of female patients, unnecessary and inappropriate breast and pelvic exams, sometimes during non-business hours.”

The Globe also reported that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Boston Police Department are investigating sexual assault allegations made against Todd, citing an anonymous law enforcement official familiar with the case. Boston.com has reached out to the Boston Police Department for confirmation; the Suffolk DA’s office said it is not commenting at this time. 

In a statement on Todd’s behalf, his attorney, Ingrid Martin, said Todd has not seen the allegations “in any lawsuit filed against him.”

“Over the course of his career he has been an outstanding rheumatologist and internist,” Martin said. “To the extent that anyone is bringing claims against him, Dr. Todd believes that he has done nothing wrong and will defend against such claims vigorously. We are cooperating fully with any investigation by the Board of Registration in Medicine.”

What now?

Morris said Brigham and Women’s has reached out to Todd’s current and former patients to offer information and resources as the hospital’s investigation continues. 

“We deeply regret the harm this has caused to our patients and their families,” he said. “Right now, our focus is on our patients and caring for all of their needs, with the hope of ultimately restoring their trust in health care.” 

At Charles River Medical Associates, Dr. Joseph Harrington said the practice — where Todd saw some of his patients beginning in 2010 — had not received and was not aware of any complaints from patients, staff, or other doctors regarding inappropriate conduct. Todd’s last day at the Framingham office was July 26, Harrington said in a statement. 

“We are in the process of communicating with patients and providing them with an opportunity to report any concerns they have about care they received from Dr. Todd,” he said, adding that the practice is fully cooperating with local and state authorities.

“We are disappointed and saddened by these disturbing allegations,” Harrington said. “Nothing is more important to Charles River Medical Associates than the health and safety of those patients who receive care at our practice.”


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