David Lyall Edwin Zimmerman, an Auckland dentist, aged 70, has had his registration cancelled.
Dr David Zimmerman (dentist)
Dr Zimmerman was found guilty by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) of professional misconduct for continuing to practise dentistry while suspended. His practising certificate was suspended by the Dental Council in July 2014 for reasons related to competence. However, the Tribunal found he had continued to practise in direct contravention to the suspension. The Tribunal found Dr Zimmerman treated at least five patients between 24 July 2014 and 2 February 2016, when “he knew, or ought to have known, that he had been suspended” from practice. The names and identifying details of the patients referred to in the charge are suppressed.
The Tribunal stated, “It is only by a finding of misconduct against Dr Zimmerman in this case that standards can be maintained in the profession and that the public, in respect of whom the finding had earlier been made that Zimmerman posed a risk of serious harm by practising below the required standard of competence, may be protected.”
By way of penalty, the Tribunal ordered that Dr Zimmerman be censured “to express the Tribunal’s significant disquiet about the whole matter”, his registration cancelled, and he pay $22,500 towards the costs of the hearing (15 percent). The Tribunal ordered that Dr Zimmerman be required to complete a course of education or training as determined by the Dental Council before he could apply for re-registration.
Another recent Tribunal decision also of interest is a ruling relating to registered medical practitioner Dr Hirron Fernando. The charge alleged that the doctor, while working in the United Kingdom, contacted New Zealand hospitals and falsely claimed he had patients in the UK and requested their health information which he later used for his own private purposes in a UK court.
The Tribunal censured Dr Fernando and cancelled his registration.
Dr Fernando appealed the decision of the Tribunal to the High Court, claiming the Tribunal had no jurisdiction in this case as although he was a New Zealand registered doctor, the charge related to a period while he was living and working overseas, and did not have a current New Zealand practising certificate.
The High Court dismissed the appeal.
Although not an oral health practitioner, the case is of interest as it indicates New Zealand-registered practitioners can still be held to account for their behaviour by the HPDT when living and working overseas.