Junior Seau's doctor could lose medical license

Posted at 10:49 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-30 02:29:33-04
SAN DIEGO -- The Medical Board of California has requested a meeting to discuss permanently suspending or revoking the medical license of Dr. David Chao, the former San Diego Chargers physician who had treated Junior Seau.
According to a complaint obtained by 10News, Chao faces several allegations from the state board in relation to his care and treatment of a patient identified only as "T.S." but is presumed to be the Charger great.
Chao is accused of:
  • Gross negligence
  • Repeated negligent acts
  • Prescribing without an appropriate prior examination
  • Failure to maintain adequate and accurate medical records
  • Unprofessional conduct
The complaint states that as a member of the Chargers' medical staff, Chao began treating Seau in 1997. Chao continued treating Seau following his retirement in 2010.
Over the course of their relationship, Chao admitted prescribing Ambien to Seau, even during his playing days. Chao said that Seau had previously told him that he rarely slept during his NFL career. 
Chao prescribed the drug despite warning signs like insomnia and depression, according to the board.
According to the complaint, Chao continued to prescribe Seau the drug following his October 2010 car crash in Carlsbad, which occurred hours after a domestic violence incident in which Seau was arrested.
In 2014, Chao told investigators that he warned Seau of the possible side effects linked to the use of Ambien. However, he said Seau was "without depression or any other psychological issues, including the week just prior" to his suicide on May 2, 2012.
Authorities said Seau committed suicide after shooting himself in the chest at his North County home. A toxicology report found Ambien in the Charger star's blood.
In the complaint, during the last 18 months of Seau's life Chao "wrote patient T.S. fourteen prescriptions for Ambien …"
When it came to his treatment of Seau, the state board said Chao "failed to document an appropriate history and physical exam prior to treatment of patient T.S. with a controlled substance …"
Chao also "failed to document any informed consent including, discussion of possible risks and side effects of treatment prior to and during the ongoing treatment of patient T.S. with a controlled substance …"
"In a case as in Junior Seau, who is suffering from a variety of problems manifested by confusion, depression, improper atypical behavior ...  you don't prescribe a drug like Ambien," Dr. Cyril Wecht, a nationally recognized as an expert in forensic pathology, said in 2014. "You may be placing that patient at greater risk to doing something to himself, such as committing suicide," Wecht added.
Chao was placed on five years of probation and had his medical license revoked in 2014 after it was found that he "was convicted of a crime substantially related to the practice of medicine and engaged in dishonest and corrupt acts."
However, the revocation of his license was stayed during his time on probation. 

San Diego County Crisis Line: 1-888-724-7240
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255