Following the arrests of two predatory physicians in South Florida – including her own children’s pediatrician – state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation. has filed a bill to keep Floridians safe pending legal action against these practitioners by suspending licenses after egregious charges have been filed.
Book’s bill provides a pathway for the Florida Department of Health to immediately suspend a healthcare practitioner’s license, pending the legal conclusion to specified criminal charges including sexual assault, possession of child pornography and homicide.
“I was horrified when my own children’s pediatrician was charged with sex crimes against kids,” said Book, a mother of four-year-old twins and child safety advocate. “Now he wants to continue to see children via telemedicine – which is completely unimaginable and simply should not be allowed. When predatory physicians use their positions of power and trust to gain access to children, their deviant predilections and illegal actions pose a unique and targeted threat.”
Upon learning about Dr. Michael Mizrachy’s arrest, Book sent a letter to the Florida Board of Medicine copying Surgeon General Scott Rivkees requesting for Mizrachy’s license to be revoked or suspended pending the final outcome of criminal proceedings. The Board of Medicine stated that it would review the matter.
“This is not about simple allegations of inappropriate behavior, this immediate revocation or suspension of a license should occur when those allegations rise to the level of an arrest and filed charges meaning there is at least enough evidence to warrant serious concerns,” said Book.
Mizrachy, Book’s Plantation-based pediatrician, was arrested and charged in January for possession of child pornography, sending sexual messages to a child and taking illicit photos of young girls. He subsequently confessed to being attracted to children and is now seeking the ability to see child patients via telemedicine. Originally in the state system, Mizrachy’s case has been transferred and he is now being charged federally.
Two weeks after Mizrachy was taken into custody, Dr. Stewart Bitman – a gastroenterologist in Coral Springs who is affiliated with several hospitals in Broward and Miami-Dade – was also arrested for sending nude photos and sexual messages to a child.
Surgeon General Rivkees, who is legally able to issue an emergency order against a doctor’s license if their actions pose “an immediate, serious danger to public health,” has not responded to requests for action to be taken in these cases. Book again reached out to Rivkees seeking action against Mizrachy and Bittman’s licenses pending the legal conclusion to their respective charges.