A prominent rheumatologist is facing multiple investigations and a lawsuit amid allegations that he performed pelvic and breast exams that were not medically indicated. The rheumatologist, Dr. Derrick Todd, left Brigham and Women’s Hospital in July, and has since agreed to stop practicing medicine in Massachusetts or in any other state.
The hospital said it had first suspended Todd, who was chief of clinical rheumatology at Brigham’s Faulkner Hospital, and then “terminated” him on July 31 at the conclusion of an initial investigation that was prompted by complaints from two other physicians.
Brigham notified the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, which licenses and disciplines physicians, of Todd’s departure. The board did not comment on whether Todd is under investigation. In September, Todd agreed to stop practicing medicine, specifying that the agreement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing.
Also, the Suffolk County district attorney and the Boston Police Department are investigating allegations that Todd sexually assaulted multiple patients, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“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,” Dr. Charles Morris, the Brigham’s chief medical officer and senior vice president for medical affairs, said in a statement. “We made a decision to terminate his employment after the conclusion of that initial investigation.”
Additionally, Todd faces a medical malpractice lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court that was filed on Sept. 29 and which also names as defendants the hospital and the Charles River Medical Associates in Framingham, where he also worked. The case files have been sealed by Judge Lynn C. Rooney pending a hearing on Oct. 17.
Todd’s lawyer, Ingrid Martin, declined to comment on his departure from Brigham or the criminal investigation.
But she did say, in an email: “We are cooperating fully with any investigation by the Board of Registration in Medicine.”
“Dr. Todd has not seen the allegations in any lawsuit filed against him,” Martin said. “Over the course of his career he has been an outstanding rheumatologist and internist. To the extent that anyone is making a claim against him, Dr. Todd believes that he has done nothing wrong and will defend against it vigorously.”
In addition to Faulkner Hospital, Todd also worked at the main hospital and at Charles River Medical Associates. He treated conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. An internist, he also worked as a primary care doctor.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Todd worked at Faulkner for 14 years, serving as chief of clinical rheumatology for four years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1995 and his medical degree from UMass Chan Medical School in 2003.
An incident report Brigham filed with the state Department of Public Health states the hospital received complaints in April 2023 from two people who were not patients and identified themselves as physicians. The complainants raised concerns about the practice of a specific physician; the hospital confirmed that it was Todd. One of the complainants questioned the appropriateness of a pelvic examination.
According to the incident report, the hospital subsequently heard from two patients who expressed “concerns with breast examinations” the doctor performed and a third “who expressed concerns regarding repeated pelvic examinations.”
The patients were referred to law enforcement, the report stated. In mid-September, the hospital sent letters to active and former patients asking them to call the hospital. “We wish to speak with you about the care received,” the letter stated, and provided a call-in number.
As the hospital continues its outreach to patients, a total of 20 have expressed concern and have been referred to law enforcement, according to the incident report.
There is conflicting information over his departure from the Brigham. In his statement, Morris said Todd was terminated; the incident report the hospital filed with DPH refers to his departure as a “resignation.” A hospital spokesperson said: “We made the decision to terminate him and, as a result, he resigned.”
The lawyer who filed the medical malpractice lawsuit in Middlesex County, Stacey L. Pietrowicz, said she represents more than one woman who, she alleges, were “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.”
“There is every indication these women are not alone,” Pietrowicz, of the Sugarman law firm, said in an email. “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.”
A second lawyer, William Thompson, said his firm, Lubin & Meyer, has been retained to represent three women with “claims against Dr. Todd.”
He said the claims involve “sexual assault” and “the victims I am aware of have been interviewed by the board (of medicine) and the hospital and have spoken to law enforcement. "
“They involve physical exams not in keeping with the general practice of rheumatology,” Thompson said.
Morris, the Brigham chief medical officer, said the hospital continues to investigate the allegations and is reaching out to current and former patients, offering them information and professional help as well as consultations with other clinicians to speak about their concerns or medical care.
“Providing high quality care in a safe environment is our top priority,” Morris said in the statement. “We deeply regret the harm this has caused to our patients and their families. 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.”
Dr. Joseph Harrington, a medical director at Charles River Medical Associates, said: “Patient care and treatment is of the highest concern to Charles River Medical Associates.” He declined to answer questions, saying the matter is under investigation.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital has set up a call center staffed by social workers to speak with Todd’s patients: 617-732-7081.
Ivy Scott of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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