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Former NFL Team Doctor Accused of Gross Negligence in Care of Junior Seau
The ex-team doctor for the NFL's San Diego Chargers has been accused by the California state medical board of gross negligence in his care of former linebacker Junior Seau.
Dr. David Chao prescribed the sleep drug Ambien (zolpidem) to Seau, who suffered depression and sleep problems prior to his suicide in 2012. Chao wrote Seau 14 prescriptions for Ambien during the player's last 18 months of life, USA Today reported.
"The use of Ambien is associated with increased incidence of impaired driving and completed suicide," according to the state medical board's accusation filed this week. "It should be prescribed with caution in patients suspected of having depression or suicidal thoughts, and in the lowest effective dose."
The accusation calls for a hearing on the issue and then a decision about whether to suspend or revoke Chao's medical license. In 2014, the board put Chao on probation for five years for other patient care issues, USA Today reported.
Chao's attorney, Robert Frank, rebuked the accusation.
"The accusation essentially is about record keeping issues," Frank said in a statement to USA Today.
"According to medical experts who have thoroughly reviewed the facts surrounding Seau's death, it is preposterous to think that a typical low dose prescription for Ambien caused Seau's death, which was carefully investigated by the coroner's office and determined to be unrelated to Ambien overdose or use. Dr. Chao and Seau were the best of friends. He never would have risked harming the best man in his wedding by providing Seau with anything but the best of care, as he had throughout his NFL career," Frank said in the statement.
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