Ricardo Cruciani Wiki – Ricardo Cruciani Biography
Doctors had offered little hope for her intractable migraines. But at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, Ricardo Cruciani, who had a reputation as a brilliant pain doctor, was warm and charming and prescribed powerful opioids, Johnson recalled in an interview.
When he put his arm around her, she thought: Finally, a doctor who cares.
Over the next several months, the doctor increased the doses and added medications. As Ms. Johnson became dependent on drugs, he became more aggressive, touching and masturbating in front of her, he said. He then forced her to perform oral sex on him.
When she resisted, he withheld refilling her prescriptions. “The first week of opioid withdrawal feels like death,” Johnson said.
Allegations & Fast Facts
His case illustrates failures that permeate the oversight of the medical profession, in which physicians wield enormous power within hospitals, misconduct is not reported and often overlooked, and institutional employers are rarely held accountable.
Former patients of Mr. Cruciani say he used his prescription pad to manipulate women in pain, pave the way for addiction and exploit their dependency for sex.
Some of his patients took such high doses of narcotics that other pain doctors refused to see them. At one point, Johnson said, he has prescribed a mixture of more than 1,300 pain relievers a month.
Now, a lawsuit filed in New Jersey on behalf of Ms. Johnson and six other former patients, along with civil lawsuits in New York and Pennsylvania, seeks to hold both the former doctor and the hospitals that employed him accountable.
The lawsuits claim that hospital administrators and staff members ignored reports that Mr. Cruciani was sexually assaulting patients until they could no longer look the other way. They allowed him to change jobs quietly, without warning other hospitals, state authorities, or police of the allegations, and allowed him to continue his predatory behavior, the plaintiffs claim.
“There is a network of protections within the profession and within the law so that this type of behavior can be detected and acted upon, and we allege that they have failed in all respects,” said Jeffrey Fritz, an attorney representing dozens of former patients who are suing Mr. Cruciani.
Cruciani’s attorney, Robert E. Lytle, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Mount Sinai Health System, which includes Beth Israel, said the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.
Mr. Cruciani was fired
A statement released by Drexel University said that Mr. Cruciani was fired in March 2017, after patient complaints sparked an internal investigation that corroborated his claims. The university notified licensing authorities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and cooperated with police investigations, according to the statement.
But Drexel officials pointed the finger at other hospitals for failing to take action or warning them. “Drexel hired Cruciani after conducting a thorough background check, as is done with all potential employees, which did not reveal any inappropriate or illegal conduct,” the statement said.
Mr. Cruciani had practiced medicine for more than 35 years at various other hospitals, the statement continues. “None of these hospitals notified Drexel of Cruciani’s conduct.”
Se**xual contact between a doctor and a patient is expressly prohibited by the American Medical Association. Its code of ethics requires all licensed medical professionals and nurses, as well as physicians, to report unethical behavior.
Throughout Cruciani’s tenures at Beth Israel, Capital Health System
Throughout Cruciani’s tenures at Beth Israel, Capital Health System in New Jersey, and Drexel University in Pennsylvania, there were red flags, based on various civil lawsuits and interviews with six former patients who are suing him.
Mr. Cruciani did not have a chaperone in the room when he saw the patients, and he resisted her pleas for a nurse or chaperone to be present. Sometimes he would take the patient into the room with him and close the door, former patients claim.
Individual visits can last an hour or more. Patients said their appointments were often scheduled at the end of the day when there were few other people in the office.
Several patients said they repeatedly asked nurses or other staff members to stay in the room with them during consultations, but the requests were generally rejected.
“If a nurse knocked on the door, he would open it and look around,” said a former patient in an interview. “I felt like they had to know.”
Several patients informed other staff members of the hospitals where Mr. Cruciani worked about his se**xual assaults, according to the lawsuits. Several patients said they dropped complaint letters into hospital comment boxes in an effort to alert administrators.
Jane Doe 8
The husband of a patient, identified as Jane Doe 8 in the lawsuits, said in an interview that he called the office of the Patient Advocate at Capital Health and described the assaults, but never received a response.
Capital Health representatives denied that numerous members of their staff were alerted to the abuse and said the hospital received no complaints from patients about Mr. Cruciani while he was working there.
“We were surprised and saddened that these allegations came to light,” said a statement released by Capital Health’s press office.
One of the first reports was made in 2005 by a long-time patient, Hillary Tullin, who had been treated by Mr. Cruciani for three years at the time.
Like many of the women treated by Mr. Cruciani at Beth Israel Medical Center (now Mount Sinai Beth Israel), Ms. Tullin experienced severe chronic pain and her condition puzzled other physicians.
“I had been to 15 or 18 different doctors who had no idea what was wrong with me and they called me crazy,” she said in an interview. Mr. Cruciani diagnosed him with complex whole body regional pain syndrome, which is not well understood.
The doctor prescribed opioids, but Ms. Tullin did not respond to them and tried other treatments.
She also began calling her at her home almost daily, telling her about her personal and family life, that she was beautiful, and that he was thinking of her. Brief hugs during office visits turned into long hugs and eventually assaults, she said.
Ms. Tullin told a Beth Israel psychologist that Mr. Cruciani had forcibly kissed her, according to her latest lawsuit. The psychologist asked Ms. Tullin if she wanted the doctor to kiss her and then asked what he wanted her to do about it.
“I said, ‘I want you to report it,’” Ms. Tullin recalled. The psychologist did not.
“It was a culture of silence,” she said Tullin. “I never spoke of that again.”
Like Mr. Cruciani’s other patients, Ms. Tullin was unable to find another doctor to treat her and she continued to see Mr. Cruciani for medical care. Although she tried to stop the assaults, they escalated.
On January 8, 2013, a patient named Nella Vince told New York City police officers that Mr. Cruciani had se**xually assaulted her multiple times over the years and offered evidence of her: a shirt. with her semen.
The police report, which has been reviewed by The New York Times, said that Ms. Vince was taking various medications, including methadone, and that she had discussed with police officers the possibility of her carrying a lead on her next appointment with the doctor.
What happened after that is unclear. The police report said Ms. Vince stopped responding to her calls and officers closed the case in June, saying the “whistleblower was uncooperative.”
Ms. Vince said in an interview that the police did not take her seriously because, they said, the doctor had no criminal record.
Mr. Cruciani abruptly resigned
Later in 2013, Mr. Cruciani abruptly resigned from the hospital and went to work at the Capital Institute for Neurosciences in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. Unable to find other doctors to take over his care, many of Mr. Cruciani’s patients followed him to Capital, where, they said, he became even more aggressive.
Several patients said they told Capital nurses about the abuse. On at least one occasion, Ms. Johnson said that she begged a nurse to stay in her room with her, but the nurse refused.
In November 2015, Mr. Cruciani announced that he was resigning to fill a position in Philadelphia at Drexel University, as chair of the department of neurology.
In February 2016
Cruciani began working at Drexel In February 2016, were plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit claim that he continued to prescribe large doses of narcotics and se**xually assault patients.
Little action was taken after the first complaints were filed in August 2016. But by February 1, 2017, at least five patients and at least three staff members had come forward, and Drexel launched an investigation into the behavior of the patient. doctor, according to the demands. presented in Philadelphia.
A month later, Mr. Cruciani left Drexel. Other former patients, alerted to the investigation, reported his assaults to Pennsylvania police.
Mr. Cruciani Arrested
In September 2017, Mr. Cruciani was arrested on multiple counts of indecent assault and a single count of indecent exposure. But he reached a plea deal that allowed him no jail time as long as he waived his medical license and registered as a low-level sex offender.
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed the other criminal and civil cases. A trial on charges including predatory sexual assault had been scheduled for next month in Manhattan but was postponed due to the pandemic.
Consumer advocates say Mr. Cruciani’s ability to continue serving patients despite a long list of misconduct and complaints is not unusual.
“We have been calling for zero tolerance for se**xual abuse by healthcare providers against patients,” said Azza AbuDagga, a researcher at the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “If that standard is not adopted, we will not be anywhere close to solving the problem.”
She was not the only victim of Mr. Cruciani. But even as patient complaints mounted, the doctor was able to move from job to job, securing hospital positions in three states over the course of a decade. He was ultimately charged with se**xual assault in Pennsylvania, registering as a sex offender, and handing over his medical license in a plea deal in 2017.
He still faces criminal charges in New York and New Jersey. At the moment, Mr. Cruciani is free on a $ 1 million bond.