The Former team doctor of the San Diego Chargers was recently reprimanded for writing careless prescriptions to former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau. In 2012 at the age of 43, Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.
The California state medical board recently came to a conclusion that Dr. David Chao ignored the side effects Ambien when writing former NFL linebacker, and friend, Junior Seau numerous prescriptions for the drug during the final year and a half leading up to Seau’s sudden suicide in 2012.
In 2010, the former linebacker drove his car off a cliff just hours after being arrested for a domestic incident. It was thought at first to not be a suicide attempt, but Seau later reveled in 2011 that he was indeed trying to end his life by driving off that cliff.
Being that the former NFL player was a close friend of Chao’s (Seau was Chao’s best man at his wedding), the doctor should have been well aware of Seau’s depression and suicidal thoughts.
But instead, Chao continued to write the former linebacker prescription after prescription for Ambien. Known as a drug to help people that struggle getting to sleep, Ambien can increase the effects of depression and should not be given to those who have a potential risk of attempting suicide.
“Only three days after patient (Seau’s) vehicular accident occurring under suspicious circumstances following an arrest and jailing for alleged domestic violence, (Chao) issued another prescription to patient (Seau) for Ambien.”
– California state medical board
Typically a drug that is only supposed to be prescribed for two to three weeks, Chao wrote Seau a total of 14 prescriptions during the final 18 months of his life.
For his role with Seau, the California medical board decided to place the doctor on probation for the next four years and he is prohibited from prescribing anyone Ambien during this time period. It is basically a slap on the wrist and that is exactly how his lawyer described the punishment his client was handed.
There is no reason to think that Chao providing his friend with an endless amount of Ambien is what led to Seau’s suicide. But it certainly didn’t help the former linebacker traverse the difficult world in which he found himself.