Message to Weill Cornell Medicine Community About Patient Safety Programs

Dear Weill Cornell Medicine Community,

This week you will likely see updates on serious allegations of misconduct against a former faculty member, which are extremely disturbing. We feel deeply for the survivors and their families. No patient who entrusts us with their care should ever experience such appalling behavior. 

Shortly after learning of the allegations, our Office of General Counsel engaged outside counsel to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the behavior of this former faculty member and the circumstances surrounding the allegations. We have fully cooperated with law enforcement. 

It is a privilege to care for our community. To rebuild the trust of our patients, their families and our own team members, we also engaged with outside experts to conduct a full review of our overall patient safety policies and practices to identify any improvements that could be made to our existing safety and reporting systems to reduce the risk of such abhorrent conduct occurring in the future.  Following that review, we have enhanced our policies, training requirements, and launched new patient safety programs, including:

  • Expanded Medical Chaperones Requirements: We have expanded chaperone mandates for additional types of examinations, treatments, and procedures. There are also new requirements for clinical practices, such as prominent signage in exam rooms and additional documentation procedures. Now, all health care teams are required to educate patients that medical chaperones are available for any visit. And, we have enhanced our policy to ensure appropriate training and compliance.

  • Enhanced Policies and Training Modules:
    We expanded our current policies for the Use of Medical Chaperones for Examinations and Reporting and Managing Patient Safety Events and Feedback. We also created a new policy for Allegation of Sexual Misconduct Involving a Patient; a new training module reviews this policy in detail and describes the process for handling these situations. The mandatory trainings are required in the Learning Management System. We modified and simplified our processes to better ensure real-time reporting through SafetyZone and to the Office of Institutional Equity. As always, our goal is for every team member to be empowered to swiftly escalate concerns regarding patient care. Your role in reporting is critical to this process, as it is our obligation to investigate any concerns in a thorough, empathetic and timely manner. Faculty and staff have been compliant with these trainings. Read the policies here.

  • New Faculty Support: We have recently launched the Office of Professionalism with the goal of upholding our culture of integrity with the highest standards of professional conduct. This new office collaborates with various stakeholders to ensure individual accountability, communication and mutual respect in educational, research and clinical settings.

Whether you are a staff member, doctor, scientist, educator or student, we all make a difference in our patients’ lives. With everyone’s engagement and attention, we can make a meaningful impact. We are grateful for your commitment and know that together we can move through this difficult time. 


Martha E. Pollack
Cornell University 

Robert A. Harrington, M.D.
Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medicine
Provost for Medical Affairs, Cornell University