Manhattan-based urologist Darius Paduch, MD, was federally indicted following years of alleged sexual abuse of patients, including minors.
A law firm representing over 20 former patients of Paduch alleges that Paduch’s former employer received complaints about his conduct but allowed him to continue seeing patients.
In April 2023, Northwell Health sent a letter to its patients about the urologist Darius Paduch, MD, and his depature. Paduch has been federally indicted by a Manhattan court and arrested by the FBI on charges that he sexually abused patients, including minors. This spring’s arrest and firing follow years of complaints about Paduch. According to the criminal complaint, Paduch abused patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center from 2015 or earlier through 2019 and at Northwell Health starting in 2019.
The complaint alleges that Paduch used his position as a doctor to pressure male patients into acts such as discussions about genital size, non-medical discussions about sexual history and preferences, discussions, and demonstrations related to masturbation, unwanted sexual touch, viewing of pornographic materials, and other abusive sexual acts.
The court documents further allege that Paduch contacted multiple patients after appointments using his personal phone number, solicited patients to travel from out of state to come for unneeded medical appointments, and was aware that several of these patients were under 18.
In addition to his indictment by the federal government, Paduch is being sued by over 20 former patients. Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC represents these patients. The firm is also suing Paduch’s former employers, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center and Northwell Health.
What’s next for Dr. Paduch
The federal charges against Paduch are significant. Under the federal case, he currently faces two counts of “inducement of a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity” and two counts of “inducement of a person to travel to engage in unlawful sexual activity.” Each of these charges carry a sentence of 10 years to life in prison. These criminal charges do not include the lawsuit filed by Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC on behalf of former patients, which will likely add monetary penalties.
The responsibility of NY-Presbyterian and Northwell Health
Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC is still seeking former patients of Paduch who were victims of, or witnesses to, his abuse. Additional evidence and victims could result in a higher settlement and additional consequences for both Paduch and his former employers. Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC believes there is evidence for holding both institutions at fault for patients harmed by Paduch. 
According to complaints, NY-Presbyterian and Northwell Health were alerted to concerns from patients about Paduch but did not act on them. Paduch was allowed to continue practicing and seeing patients despite issues in his conduct pointed out by patients and colleagues. Dr. Naveed Sami, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist who has spoken and written on a variety of crucial healthcare topics, says that it’s vital for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to have systems in place to handle serious complaints in order to avoid putting patients in this sort of danger.
“Institutions have a responsibility to conduct prompt and thorough investigations when serious charges or complaints are made. This may involve appointing an independent investigation team, collecting relevant evidence, conducting interviews with the parties involved, and consulting external experts, if necessary,” Sami explains.
“In cases where allegations are substantiated, or there is credible evidence indicating potential harm to patients, institutions may consider suspending the accused physician or reassigning them to non-patient care duties during the investigation. This step helps ensure patient safety while the investigation unfolds," he continues.
In the state of New York, these institutions would be held responsible even if there were no records of complaints or concerns reported against Paduch. In New York, medical institutions are obligated to protect their patients from danger, including danger from medical staff members. It is the responsibility of institutions to ensure patients are safe while being treated by every member of their staff. Under these regulations, it seems that Paduch’s employers would be liable. Still, a judge must hear all the evidence to determine if NY-Presbyterian Hospital and Northwell Health are responsible in this specific case.
Ensuring patient safety should go beyond taking investigations seriously. Responding to complaints should be about more than how a physician or other healthcare professional is treated. Paying attention to how the patient is treated and supported helps maintain great patient care. For instance, making sure that the patient who raised a complaint has complete anonymity ensures that they are safe, and offering that patient services, such as counseling, can help them feel supported.
“It is crucial for institutions to ensure the confidentiality and protection of individuals who come forward with complaints. This includes maintaining anonymity, providing support and resources, and protecting individuals from potential retaliation,” says Sami. “Institutions should provide support to the patients who have made complaints or are affected by the alleged misconduct. This may include access to counseling services, alternative healthcare providers, and assistance with any legal or financial aspects.”