DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) — A San Diego plastic surgeon has surrendered his license to the Medical Board of California after being accused of gross negligence for allegedly allowing a clinic owner he worked for to mislead patients into thinking he was a medical professional when he wasn’t licensed.
Dr. Gerald Lane Schneider surrendered his license on March 3, according to medical board records.
Schneider, who was board-certified and specialized in liposuction, started working in 2014 at the Pacific Cielo Surgery Center and Medical Spa in Rancho Santa Fe and later at the Del Mar Cosmetic & Contouring Surgery clinic.
The Del Mar clinic made headlines in 2019 after a female patient alleged she had her nipples pinched and breasts grabbed by Dario Moscoso, the owner of the now-shuttered clinic.
The District Attorney later charged Moscoso with 20 felony and misdemeanor counts including sexual battery for representing himself as a surgeon and inappropriately touching four women between 2017 and 2019. He has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty in 2020 and is due back in court in August.
Surgeon took 25% cut of procedures cost: board
The Medical Board alleged Schneider aided and abetted the unlicensed practice of medicine by Moscoso, who gave Schneider a 25% cut of a procedure’s cost.
It also found Schneider put patients in jeopardy by not having the appropriate safety measures in place when he was performing liposuction.
The decision says the required oxygen, medication, and equipment weren’t on site for the procedures and any emergencies.
“At all relevant times, Respondent was not certified in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), and no ACLS-certified person was present and monitoring the patients at Del Mar. At all relevant times, Respondent did not have a written emergency care plan for his patients at Del Mar.”
Patient safety advocate Marian Hollingsworth said it was unacceptable for patients to be seen for consultations by someone who wasn't a licensed doctor.
“I mean, you can't even get your nails done, get your hair done (from someone who isn't licensed). You have to have a licensed barber. You have to have a licensed nail person to do that.”
Moscoso frequently wore a white coat like a doctor and saw female patients alone for consultations. Schneider would often meet a patient for the first time during the day of a procedure, according to the February stipulated surrender of license and disciplinary order.
The Medical Board found he committed multiple acts of “gross negligence” while caring for patients and engaged in acts of dishonesty.
Schneider’s license to practice medicine in California was suspended from October 2013 – January 2014. And he was on probation until September 2020 for starting a relationship with a patient and having sex with her, according to a 2013 discipline decision.
Doctor required supervisor with female patients
After the ruling, the board required Schneider to have a chaperone in the room when he saw female patients. He used his longtime girlfriend to act as a supervisor at the Del Mar office, according to the February order.
The Del Mar Cosmetic & Contouring Surgery clinic was located inside leased space in a medical building owned by Scripps Health on El Camino Real. Schneider and the plastic surgery clinic had no affiliation with Scripps Health, a spokeswoman for the company said.
Hollingsworth said she wasn't surprised this case happened in upscale Del Mar.
“I've read enough cases where I'm not surprised it happens anywhere because people go into a clinic and if it looks nice, if it looks clean, if it looks luxurious, it must be good.”
She said it reinforces why patients need to do their homework before seeing a doctor. She recommends patients check with the medical board's doctor look up tool before having a procedure done. It will show if the physician has been disciplined or if they are on probation.
Schneider had been licensed to practice medicine since 1977.
The Del Mar clinic has been closed for a couple of years, according to a man who answered the phone number listed online for it online.
Schneider declined to comment on this story when reached by Team10 reporter Austin Grabish.