Ex-Chargers' Team Doc Could Have Medical License Revoked - NBC 7 San Diego

Ex-Chargers' Team Doc Could Have Medical License Revoked

"For Dr. Chao to have believed [Junior] Seau was suicidally depressed before his death is as preposterous as any insinuation that Chao is responsible for the suicide," Chao's attorney said Monday

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Ex-Chargers' Team Doc Could Have Medical License Revoked
    Dr. David Chao in a file image from October 2013.

    The former team physician for the San Diego Chargers could have his license revoked or suspended by the Medical Board of California.

    As part of a stipulated settlement with the California Medical Board in April 2014, David Chao, M.D. had his license revoked but that revocation was stayed for five years while he was placed on probation.

    Now, a medical board hearing has been scheduled to consider allegations against Chao including gross negligence.

    According to the board's accusations, Chao continued to prescribe Ambien, to former Charger Junior Seau and did not closely monitor him for ongoing signs of depression.

    Seau, one of the NFL's best and fiercest players for nearly two decades, had a degenerative brain disease when he committed suicide in May 2012.

    "For Dr. Chao to have believed Seau was suicidally depressed before his death is as preposterous as any insinuation that Chao is responsible for the suicide," Chao's attorney Robert Frank said publicly Monday.

    According to the Medical Board accusation, Dr. Chao wrote Seau a prescription for Ambien three days after the former football player was in a car accident, where his vehicle veered off a cliff in Carlsbad.

    In an interview with a medical board investigator Dr. Chao said he visited Seau in the hospital after the accident and asked him what happened. According to the accusation, Dr. Chao told the investigator Seau "denied it was a suicide attempt and insisted that he (Seau) had fallen asleep while driving."

    NBC 7 requested an interview with Frank and Chao but we were referred to the statement posted on the Mighty 1090 website.

    "Dr. Chao legally prescribed to Seau smaller than usual quantities of Ambien (a sleep aid) commonly provided by physicians to people with chronic insomnia. The quantity of each script was for no more than a one month supply, with no refills," according to the statement.

    "There has never been a concern of overdosing on Ambien and Seau had only trace levels of the medication in his system at the time of his death, which is what would be expected after properly using the medication for a night’s sleep."

    He went on to say the medical examiner did not consider or link the use of Ambien to Seau's 2012 suicide.

    In early 2013, it was determined that the linebacker suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.

    Frank said, " At the time, no physician could have known Seau was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) because there wasn’t anyway to diagnose it in the living."

    NBC 7 Investigates first reported that the medical board filed a complaint against Chao based on complaints from three patients.

    One allegedly suffered neurological problems and further complications after having surgery according to the complaint.

    The Medical Board issued a public reprimand against Chao in May 2013 after it determined that he was "dishonest" when he failed to reveal a misdemeanor DUI Conviction on applications to work as a medical evaluator for workers' compensation cases.

    In June 2013, Chao decided to step down from his role as team doctor for the San Diego Chargers based on health reasons.