Santa Monica, CA – Two years after Consumer Watchdog called on the California Medical Board to suspend the license of former San Diego Chargers team doctor, David Chao, the Board has charged Chao with negligence in the death of former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau.
Consumer Watchdog said the Board should have suspended Dr. Chao’s license as it investigated Seau’s death, given the risk to patients from a doctor with multiple disciplinary actions against him. Chao was placed on probation in 2014, just three months before Consumer Watchdog’s complaint was filed, for gross and repeated negligence in five other cases. He also has a history of DUI convictions, questionable prescribing and at least 20 malpractice lawsuits.
Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter calling for Chao’s suspension in 2014: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrmedboard_chao.pdf
“Despite his history of negligence and drunk driving, the Medical Board allowed Dr. Chao to keep practicing for two years while it investigated his responsibility for Junior Seau’s death. Even now, after the Board has filed charges accusing him of negligence and improper prescribing, Chao continues to see patients. Californians are not safe in a system that does not tell them when their doctor is on probation or charged with contributing to a patient’s death,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.
Junior Seau took his own life four years ago, shortly after he ingested Ambien prescribed by Dr. Chao. The sleep aid is known to increase feelings of depression and suicide and according to experts should not be prescribed to someone who is already confused, depressed, or suicidal. The Medical Board’s complaint says that Dr. Chao failed “to exercise caution in the extended use of Ambien with a patient exhibiting signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation.”
The accusations against Dr. Chao make the case for SB 1033, legislation by Senator Jerry Hill that would require doctors on probation to notify their patients. And Dr. Chao’s case is further evidence that enforcement at the Medical Board must be overhauled when the state legislature takes up its sunset review next year, said Consumer Watchdog.
During the 15 years Dr. Chao was the head Chargers physician, many of his former patients, including quarterback Ryan Leaf, linebacker Jon Haskins, and safety Greg Jackson, claimed that Chao had misdiagnosed and/or negligently treated their injuries. A fifth former Charger, defensive back Mark Montreuil, sued both Dr. Chao and his former partner, Dr. Gary Losse – who was allegedly addicted to painkillers supplied by Dr. Chao – after they performed surgery on his knee while Dr. Losse was allegedly high.