Maryland hospital quotes Shakespeare in defense of physician who used fake identity

Dimensions Health, a Maryland system serving residents of Prince George's County, argued in a motion to dismiss filed Friday that it should not face a putative class-action lawsuit alleging a former OB-GYN used a fake identity while providing care to at least 1,000 women at Dimensions' facilities. 

Two former patients, Monique Russell and Jasmine Riggins, brought the lawsuit against Dimensions in Maryland federal court. They allege a physician used a false identity while providing prenatal care to Ms. Russell and delivering Ms. Riggins' baby. The two women brought their claim as a class action, as they assert there are at least 1,000 women who saw Oluwafemi Charles Igberase, MD, while he was using the fake name Charles J. Akoda, MD.

Ms. Riggins and Ms. Russell's complaint does not challenge Dr. Igberase's competence to practice as an OB-GYN. They claim they suffered significant harm due to the fact that the physician did not use his real name. They further allege Dimensions was negligent in either hiring the physician or granting him privileges that allowed him to practice at its facilities.

In its motion to dismiss, Dimensions claims the lawsuit should be tossed because plaintiffs failed to meet the arbitration requirements specified in the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act and because the health system owed the plaintiffs no legal duty to ensure Dr. Akoda was not using an assumed name or that his Social Security number belonged to him. Dimensions also argues the plaintiffs failed to show that a reasonable investigation by the health system would have turned up information that would have prevented the physician from being hired.

Dimensions argues the emotional injuries the plaintiffs allegedly suffered were not caused by learning their OB-GYN used a fake name and that the physician's actions did not put patient safety at risk. 

"Whether Dr. Akoda practiced under his 'real' name of Igberase or whether he used a Social Security number that did or did not belong to him has nothing at all to do with patient safety," states Dimensions' motion to dismiss.

The plaintiffs claim the physician invaded their privacy in several ways, including by performing medical procedures on them. However, Dimensions quoted Sir William Shakespeare to argue that regardless of the physician's name, he was licensed to practice medicine.

The fact that the physician used a false name and Social Security number does not "transform routine prenatal, labor and delivery care into an invasion of the patient's privacy," states Dimensions' motion to dismiss. "As Shakespeare wrote over 400 years ago, 'What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.' Whether the patients knew him as 'Akoda' or 'Igberase,' both names denote the exact same person, and that person was a licensed physician, who was experienced and competent in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology."

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