The California State Medical Board has reached a settlement with a doctor under fire for his treatment of former NFL linebacker and Hall of Famer Junior Seau.
Dr. David Chao, Seau’s physician and the former team doctor for the San Diego Chargers, will be placed on probation for four years and will be prohibited from prescribing the drug Ambien during that time, according to a story in USAToday . Also as part of the settlement, Chao’s practice must be supervised by another doctor, and he’ll be allowed to continuing practicing medicine.
The board has sued Chao, accusing him of gross negligence because he didn’t properly care for his patient. The board claimed Chao did not take the necessary precautions when prescribing the extended use of Ambien to a patient exhibiting signs of depression and suicidal thoughts, as in the case of Seau. Chao wrote Seau 14 prescriptions for Ambien in the last 18 months of his life. The board, in making it’s case, said:
“Notwithstanding the existence of red flags involving patient (Seau) and his extended use of Ambien, Chao continued to prescribe the controlled substance without closely monitoring patient (Seau) for ongoing signs of depression and suicidal ideation.”
Seau committed suicide in 2012.
Chao was previously disciplined by the same board, once receiving five years probation for erroneous medical practices relating to the care of his patients .
Bob Frank, Chao’s attorney, said the settlement serves as proof that Chao had no hand in Seau’s death.
“I hope everyone now can see how ridiculous it is to have pursued any claim that Dr. Chao was somehow responsible for Junior Seau’s death,” Frank said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. “Almost five years ago, the coroner exonerated Dr. Chao from any role in Seau’s death. Seau was one of Dr Chao’s closest friends. Political and other motivations brought these spurious charges that we are now happy to have behind us.”
Seau, 43, was found dead in his Southern California home in 2012 with a gunshot wound to the chest. It was later discovered that his brain showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition connected to the head trauma suffered by football players.