BY: Jay Yasso | IN: Sexual Assault
A Boston rheumatologist, Dr. Derrick Todd, is under investigation for sexual assault against his former patients.
Dr. Todd was the chief physician of rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston, where he worked as a rheumatologist and primary care physician for 14 years. Before Brigham and Women’s, Dr. Todd worked at the Charles Medical Associates Hospital in Framingham, Massachusetts.
As of October 2023, at least 150 women—across multiple class action lawsuits—have spoken out against Dr. Todd, accusing him of performing unnecessary pelvic, breast, and rectal exams on them for his own sexual gratification. This abuse was carried out under the guise of legitimate medical care, and the claims against Dr. Todd include negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, sexual assault, and battery.
This is not the first time a doctor has abused their position of authority to sexually abuse their patients. However, the allegations against Dr. Todd highlight an unsettling trend of rampant sexual abuse unfolding in the medical community.
Patients Worry About Reporting Abuse in a Broken System
A decade ago, sexual assault was virtually unheard of in the medical community—not because it wasn’t happening, but because it wasn’t being reported. These days, a quick internet search uncovers rampant abuse showing doctor/patient crimes ranging from inappropriate touching to exposure to masturbation and involuntary oral sex.
It’s enough to make you want to refuse anesthesia for the rest of your life. However, despite their numbers, predators like Dr. Todd often go unreported. And in some cases, even when the abuse is reported, predators are allowed to keep practicing as if nothing happened.
The system of reporting doctor/patient sexual abuse is undoubtedly broken. The inherent privacy of medical exams—which aren’t documented and often lack other witnesses—creates an apparent evidence void. And with no proof to offer, patients who do report sexual abuse often find themselves in a no-win, ‘he said, she said’ battle against a highly respected medical professional with an established reputation in the community.
How Does Michigan Law Protect Patient Rights?
Dr. Todd lives and works in Massachusetts—so it’s safe to say he hasn’t treated many Michigan patients. However, that doesn’t mean Michigan is immune to the rising influx of doctor/patient sexual abuse. Less than a decade ago, Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse scandal threw an international spotlight on our state when former patients and USAG team members publicly accused him of sexual assault. Nassar—and other prolific offenders like Dr. Robert Anderson—highlight the challenges patients face when trying to report physician abuse.
They also prove that Michigan patients have as much reason for concern about these issues as those in Massachusetts.
Michigan legislatures recently enacted new sexual abuse laws that attach specific felony charges for physicians who sexually abuse patients under the guise of treatment. These statutes are aimed at increasing awareness, reducing opportunities for offenders, and empowering survivors to report abuse.
With a greater emphasis on education, scrutiny, and accountability, lawmakers hope to restore the fractured doctor/patient trust in our medical community.
Have You Been Sexually Abused by a Physician or Healthcare Professional?
Sexual abuse is a serious crime. As a patient, you put an incredible amount of trust in your doctor, and you deserve justice for the mishandling and abuse you received in return.
At Sommers Schwartz, personal injury attorneys Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller and Jay Yasso are committed to fighting for your rights. Our firm has successfully prosecuted high-profile predators such as Dr. Larry Nassar—Michigan State University and USAG team physician—and Robert Anderson, who sexually abused students, athletes, and other patients for over 35 years at the University of Michigan. And we want to help you, too. If you’ve been sexually abused by Dr. Todd or someone else you know, don’t wait. Contact Sommers Schwartz today for a free consultation, and let us help you pursue justice with the compassion, empathy, and sensitivity your story deserves.
View all posts byJay Yasso
Jay Yasso focuses his practice on medical malpractice, automobile negligence, and personal injury. He has litigated, mediated and facilitated numerous multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of injured victims for over two decades.