Brigham and Women’s Hospital is facing a major lawsuit alleging that one of its doctors, who has since voluntarily quit practicing, was performing unnecessary sexualized “exams” of women who went to him for help with unrelated ailments.
The lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday morning has one named plaintiff, Marianne “Mimi” DiTrani, but her lawyers say that Dr. Derrick Todd’s victims could grow.
“When you trust someone in a position of power, go to them for healing, and are instead hurt, it’s frightening, confusing, and difficult to process. There is no shame. Predators are adept at picking up cues others cannot see,” DiTrani said from the street outside Brigham’s ambulatory care center Tuesday afternoon on Francis Street.
“I have decided to come forward because someone must. Nature has taught us there is safety in numbers. I want anyone who was harmed in the way that I was to know they are not alone, and there is nothing to fear,” she continued with a clear voice despite being visually emotional during the press conference. “I want to be the voice for the voiceless and encourage them to speak. In so doing, we can ensure this does not happen again, and that the healing process can begin.”
One of DiTrani’s attorneys, Brian Perkins of the firm Peiffer Wolf in San Francisco, said Todd is “a dangerous predator.”
“He used his position of trust and authority as a doctor with Brigham and Women’s to aggressively groom and coerce his patients with breast and vaginal exams that were medically unnecessary and well outside the scope of the care that he was there to provide for his patients,” Perkins continued.
Todd, of Wayland, is a rheumatology — think arthritis — specialist who DiTrani specifically sought out because of his specialty in her undisclosed but “very rare” condition and his “renowned” reputation and resume.
That resume includes a Yale University undergraduate education and both a PhD and an MD from the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, according to his LinkedIn profile. He began his career with stints as a fellow in immunology at Harvard School of Public Health and a residency in internal medicine at MassGeneral, according to his state Board of Registration in Medicine profile.
He rose to chief of clinical rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in July of 2019, a position he held in November 2022 when DiTrani began treatment with him.
And thus began a relationship between doctor and patient, which the complaint describes as “inherently imbalanced.”
“The knowledge, skills and training required of the doctor to appropriately treat the patient places the doctor … in a position of power,” the complaint states. “The patient … on the other hand, enters the medical treatment from a position of vulnerability due to the illness and suffering that brings them to the physician.”
The “treatment” began at Charles River Medical Associates medical offices in Framingham, according to the complaint, but upon the first day, “Defendant Todd began subjecting her to a course of predatory grooming, boundary violating, mental, emotional and physical sexual abuse that was masked by his position of power and authority over Plaintiff in dire need of treatment” marked by what DiTrani described as “very, very” personal and sexual comments inappropriate for a doctor.
The exploitive conduct continued through the treatment, according to DiTrani, until their last point of professional conduct in June, though DiTrani’s lawyers said that Todd continued to “contact and harass” her by phone and text messages even after the hospital terminated him on July 31 and he signed an agreement to stop practicing medicine on Sept. 5.
“We deeply regret the harm Dr. Todd’s actions has caused our patients and their families. We take our duty to care for our patients and keep them safe extremely seriously. We have, and always will, act decisively on any allegations of misconduct, as we did in this case,” Dr. Charles Morris, the chief medical officer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, wrote in a statement Tuesday.
The hospital said that it received two anonymous complaints against Todd in April and launched its own investigation and instructed Todd to not perform sensitive exams without a chaperone. By the end of July, the hospital terminated Todd and worked to transition his patients to other doctors.
Morris urged former Todd patients who have not yet reached out to the hospital to call them.
While the lawsuit requests a jury trial on the charges including battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and demands compensation for pain and suffering, future treatment expenses and attorneys fees, DiTrani and her lawyers also want the suit to bring systemic change to the hospital itself.
“I would like the hospital to finally get me real doctors,” DiTrani said. “I would like other girls, other victims, other women to feel like they can talk about what happened without feeling ashamed. And I would like the hospital to be monitoring this better so this doesn’t happen again.”
Source: BostonHerald October 10 2023