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Former NFL team doctor accused of negligence

New York football fans were likely saddened by the suicide of retired San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau in 2012. Now the California state medical board has filed a gross negligence charge against the team's former doctor over the care Seau received prior to his death.

According to the complaint, Seau suffered from depression and sleep problems in the months before he killed himself, and Dr. David Chao prescribed him the sleep aid zolpidem, which is sold under the brand name Ambien. However, the medical board says that Ambien increases the risk of suicide and impaired driving and should be "prescribed with caution" to patients suffering from depression. In 2010, Seau drove his car over a cliff but survived. Many thought it was a suicide attempt, but Chao disagreed and continued to prescribe Ambien to Seau.

In a statement released to the media, Chao's attorney disputed the charges, claiming that his client and Seau were "the best of friends" and that Chao would never risk harming Seau. Seau retired from the Chargers in 2010 and shot himself in the chest in 2012 at the age of 43. After his death, doctors found that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a concussion-related brain injury that can cause depression and memory loss. Chao left the Chargers in 2013.

Patients who are prescribed the wrong medication for their medical condition and are harmed as a result may have cause for bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit based on doctor negligence that is prepared and filed with the assistance of a lawyer. Being successful in this type of a civil action requires a determination by the jury that the defendant failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

Source: USA Today, "Ex-NFL doctor accused of gross negligence in treatment of Junior Seau," Brent Schrotenboer, May 1, 2016

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