Report: DUI Football Doctor Responsible For Death of Chargers Star Seau?

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Watchdog: Revoke License, NFL Players Support Doctor Drug Testing

SANTA MONICA, CA – In response to an investigative report that former Chargers head team physician and known substance-abuser Dr. David Chao could be responsible for the May 2012 suicide of former linebacker Junior Seau, Consumer Watchdog called upon the Medical Board of California to revoke Chao’s medical license and on the NFL Players Association to support random physician drug testing.

On Wednesday night, KGTV, the ABC affiliate in San Diego, broke the story that Chao, previously put on probation for “gross negligence” by the medical board, prescribed Ambien to Junior Seau. According to the cororner's report, Seau committed suicide less than 90 minutes after ingesting Ambien, which is well known for increasing feelings of depression and suicide. A pathologist who reviewed the case for the report said Chao should never have prescribed Ambien to a depressed and suicidal Seau.

Watch and read the KGTV news story here:

“The nexus between physician substance abuse, reckless prescribing, and medical negligence, abetted by the lack of statewide drug and alcohol testing, is crystallized in the case of David Chao, who should long ago have relinquished his license but for the revolving door of treatment facilities, lax doctor discipline, and failure of legal deterrence in California, ” wrote Consumer Watchdog’s Jamie Court and Michael Kapp to the medical board, in calling for an immediate interim suspension of Chao’s license.

Dr. Chao has a long record of alcohol abuse, including two DUIs, at least twenty malpractice lawsuits from Chargers players and members of the public, an investigation by the DEA into prescriptions Dr. Chao allegedly wrote to himself, and accusations that he enabled his former partner’s prescription drug addiction.

Calling Dr. Chao, who is still practicing medicine, an “imminent threat and danger to those around him, including his patients,” Court and Kapp called on the Medical Board to immediately suspend Dr. Chao, followed by revocation of his medical license.

Read the letter to the Medical Board here:

Consumer Watchdog also asked the NFL Players Association, which had previously condemned Dr. Chao, to join Consumer Watchdog in calling for random physician drug testing. Consumer Watchdog’s affiliate, Consumer Watchdog Campaign, has placed a patient safety ballot measure for drug testing, curbs on reckless prescribing and modernization of medical malpractice laws on the November ballot.  Read more at:

“Why are NFL athletes required to submit to random drug testing but not the doctors who operate on them and hold the players' lives and careers in their hands?” wrote Court and Kapp to DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association.

Read the letter to the NFL Players Association here:

“[T]he Players Association must act to protect NFL players from harm. The Chargers players had no idea how dangerous Dr. Chao was; indeed, the sports website Deadspin reported that the Chargers players liked Dr. Chao because ‘they view him as a friend and a drinking buddy who happens to have a prescription pad.’…NFL players deserve better than their ‘drinking buddies’ operating on them: they deserve an experienced and sober physician.”

California suffers from an epidemic of physician substance abuse. The California Medical Board estimates that 18% of doctors will have a substance abuse problem at some point during their careers, and 1-2% are abusing drugs or alcohol at any given point in time.

According to a previous review of records Consumer Watchdog had obtained from the Medical Board through the Public Records Act, since 2003 the Medical Board disciplined just 149 doctors for substance abuse, 27 for using drugs or alcohol at work and 104 for DUIs. However, if up to 2,000 doctors are abusing drugs or alcohol at any given time, the vast majority of them are successfully escaping detection and consequences.

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