By Steve Miller
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Dr. Evan Zimmer has been indicted for racketeering, convicted separately with the misdemeanors offenses of drunk driving and soliciting a prostitute and been deemed at one point by the state’s medical board to have “an inability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety.”
Something he’s also managed to do for much of his professional life is to hold on to his medical license. Perhaps even more important, the former South Florida psychiatrist has held that license under two different numbers, possibly circumventing the state’s system that allows the public to check the background of their provider.
Zimmer, who has practiced in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, had license number ME 44139 revoked in August 1986. The Florida Board of Medicine charged him with prescribing drugs to patients without properly documentation and, in some cases, without the proper examination.
Zimmer came to the board in July 1989 asking for his license back.
The board agreed to reinstate Zimmer in September 1991, issuing him license number MC 55819, effectively erasing a part of his medical past, were someone to look into it. A handwritten note on the order reinstating Zimmer says “this order is for license # ME0055819.”
“That comes as a big surprise to me, as I’ve always been under the belief that once you have a license revoked and get reinstated, you should have the same license number so the board is aware of your past,” said Michael D’Lugo, an Orlando lawyer who represents accused doctors in front of the state’s medical board.
The Miami lawyer who handled Zimmer’s reinstatement, Richard Baron, said the same thing. “When a revoked doctor is reinstated, he should have the same license number so the public has a clear image of who he is,” Baron said.
A state Department of Health spokeswoman said in an email that a reinstated physician’s “new license number is linked to the old license number in the licensing system.”
That doesn’t seem to be true, at least in Zimmer’s case.
The linked license numbers don’t appear, however, in a public search. Search the department’s records for Zimmer’s license and no personal information comes up, such as education, specialty or proceedings and actions. It simply states his license is “null and void” and provides a link to the license removal documents.
Under his current license, Zimmer’s full background is provided as well as a link to the disciplinary action the state has taken against him since his license was reinstated.
In an email, Zimmer declined to comment, writing that he “lost faith in the ability of reporters” to be fair. But he did compliment the state’s Medical Board that had suspended his license.
“If you attend a couple of Medical Board meetings, you will find a sincere and devoted group of professionals from various domains, who agonize over the parameters of each and every case, prior to reaching a broad range of deeply considered conclusions, consequences and judgments,” Zimmer wrote. “To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, this system may be terrible, but it’s the best we’ve developed, so far.”
Zimmer ended his email by noting that “it is not how many skeletons we have in our closets, it is how we make them dance for us that counts.”
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit news organization supported by foundations and individual contributions. For more information, visit fcir.org.