Columbia University and CUIMC Announce Multi-Pronged Plan To Address Past Abuses of Robert Hadden and Support Survivors
November 13, 2023
Columbia University and Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) announced a multi-pronged plan to address the abuse, harm, and trauma inflicted by former gynecologist Robert Hadden and to support survivors. New Columbia President Minouche Shafik and Chief Executive Officer of CUIMC Dr. Katrina Armstrong announced that this comprehensive plan:
- Commits to an external investigation to thoroughly examine the circumstances and failures that allowed Hadden’s abuse to continue;
- Notifies nearly 6500 former patients of the crimes for which Hadden has been convicted and sentenced;
- Offers survivors the opportunity to participate in a new $100 million survivors’ settlement fund;
- Launches a center for patient safety and initiates engagement with outside experts to review CUIMC’s current quality and patient safety programs, policies, and procedures.
“We owe it to the courageous survivors and the entire Columbia community to fully reckon with Hadden’s abuses,” said Minouche Shafik, President of Columbia University and Dr. Katrina Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of the CUIMC. “Columbia failed these survivors, and for that we are deeply sorry. This announcement aims to ensure we are on a path that repairs harm and prevents further trauma – moving us forward and rebuilding the trust of our entire community.”
Hadden left CUIMC in 2012 and has not worked as a doctor since then. He was convicted of federal sexual assault charges in January 2023 and sentenced to 20 years in prison in July. The University has previously settled more than 220 survivor claims through settlement funds. President Shafik joined the University in July 2023 and Dr. Armstrong in March 2022.
An external investigator, Joan Loughnane, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP who previously served in a series of leadership positions in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, will lead an investigation. Ms. Loughnane will thoroughly examine the circumstances that allowed Hadden’s abuse to continue, establish a process for survivors and others with knowledge of Hadden’s abuse to share their stories, and issue public findings.
Direct notice will be provided to nearly 6500 former Hadden patients to alert them to his conviction and sentence – letting them know that they are not alone and that resources are available to them. This notification will inform former patients of their rights under the New York State Adult Survivors Act. It also will provide information about the survivors’ settlement fund and how to make a claim, and will encourage any patient with any information about Hadden’s conduct to reach out to the external investigator.
The $100 million survivors’ settlement fund will be administered by Simone Lelchuk, an experienced, trauma-informed settlement fund administrator. In consultation with Columbia, Ms. Lelchuk will work to establish the fund protocols. The fund will open in January 2024 and stay open for at least one year – providing a pathway for survivors to receive resources without needing to retain a lawyer. In addition to individual outreach, the administrator and Columbia will widely advertise how survivors can access the fund.
To help promote these efforts, Columbia has set up a website – cuimc.columbia.edu/rebuildingtrust – that will centralize access to resources and support for survivors and will be continuously updated with developments on Columbia’s efforts.
Building on ongoing efforts to ensure patients are provided with a safe environment of care, CUIMC has also developed a series of new patient safety policies and programs. The foundation of the work is the expansion of channels for patients and staff to report physician misconduct, complemented by investments in chaperone training and other safety systems. In addition, CUIMC is committed to three significant new quality and patient safety (QPS) initiatives:
- Collaboration with outside experts to provide transparent monitoring, assessment, and improvement of CUIMC patient safety programs and procedures.
- Investment in predictive analytics for identifying high-risk behavior by faculty and staff to prevent harm before it occurs.
- Creation of a new, nation-leading Center for Patient Safety Science to conduct research that will define the future of quality care and patient safety.