Chargers Doctor Loses Malpractice Case And Investigated By Federal Authorities

There is an interesting case involving the team doctor to the San Diego Chargers, Dr. David Chao. Kathleen Adams, a former patient, was awarded $2.2 million by an arbitration panel due to Chao botched hip surgery in 2007 in which he lacerated her femoral artery, vein and nerve. What is most interesting is that Chao, 46, has a long history of malpractice despite his high-profile position with the Chargers.

As the article below attests, Chao “has been sued 20 times since 1998 by patients alleging malpractice, personal injury, negligence or fraud.” He had to settle with Tom Fagan, who alleged that Chao’s negligence in a knee surgery led to having his right leg amputated n 2007.
Worse yet, federal agents searched Chao’s office and alleged he had written 108 prescriptions with himself listed as the patient. That record makes the Chargers 9-7 enviable in comparison to the record of its doctor.

Chao was also the doctor for cyclist Floyd Landis and wrestler Rey Mysterio as well as the USA rugby team and Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment. His website states:

Dr. Chao, an internationally known sports medicine expert, has been practicing orthopedic surgery in San Diego, California for the past 15 years at OASIS. He is the head team physician for the San Diego Chargers, where he specializes in orthopedic sports injuries. High profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB trust him, and so can you. When a sports related injury requires expert medical attention, Dr. Chao has the experience and expertise you need in a physician.

It is astonishing that he has secured so many high-profile clients with this record. Lawyers, including myself, have long objected that malpractice among doctors is committed by a relatively small percentage of doctors who drive up insurance rates and cause continuing harm. Indeed, many of us have been critical of the AMA for failing to adequately police its own ranks.

Chao seems to have led a charmed life as a celebrity doctor and less than a charmed life as an actual physician.

Source: Union Tribune

Jonathan Turley

9 thoughts on “Chargers Doctor Loses Malpractice Case And Investigated By Federal Authorities”

  1. I am a long time patient of Dr Dave Chao, dating back eleven years. I have known him professionally, as a publicist for the ESPN X Games, as the doctor for Tony Hawk tours, and personally, as a patient. This spring I am ashamed to say I almost didn’t go to him for my 3rd ACL replacement (I am a skier), due to the media drama surrounding his reputation. I debated; my conclusion was, and is, that Dr Chao is a very, very good surgeon and respectable person. Chao has operated on me successfully four times, he cares about his patients, his career and family; this cannot be easy. I am recovering nicely, by the way.
    I feel for Dr Chao. I’ve known him to be a good doctor, person, father, and friend. We are all human. We all have skeletons, most of which have their own story and explanation. Chao has remained stoically quiet, busy in his private practice, and undoubtedly wrestling with the harsh feedback from those who have half of a story.
    When you perform as many surgeries as he does, your bound to have litigation. In my humble opinion and speculation, Chao may have made a bad decision after drinking with an extremely troubled best friend and former player (speculating, here). I’m sure he’d make a different decision, if he had the do-over. Most of us can relate.
    Dr Chao has been traveling with the Chargers, X Games, and USA Rugby, to name a few; all big dudes with big injuries, who play through, with supervised medical care and pain management. My experience is that Chao respects an athlete to make their own career and life decisions after detailing all choices available and potential ramifications of their choice. If they choose to continue playing, skating, riding, skiing, he will respect their choice, their body, and do his best to minimize further injury and prepare that athlete to return to play.
    I don’t follow the NFL much, having had a career in action sports, but in my humble opinion, I’d say that the Players Association has been looking for a scapegoat to take power away from the team’s and player’s right to decide their own medical care. Perhaps they are succeeding.

    Chao is a good, level headed, doctor to have on your team when someone goes down. I wish him and his family the very best.

  2. I had reconstructive ACL surgery from Dr. Chao in May of 2011. 3 months later and I have nothing but glowing remarks for Chao and his entire staff at OASIS. My surgery was seamless.
    I am an average Joe who happened to be refferred to Dr. Chao and based on stories I’ve heard from many people I have talked to who have had ACL surgery elsewhere I am very glad I went with Dr. Chao.
    Before my surgery I was highly cynical of the medical world and doctors in general due to malpractice and bad ethical stories I’ve heard over the years but Chao and his staff recieve an A+ from me.
    I am very sorry to read others have had such problems but everyone must know the risk they are taking anytime they are going into surgery which I too was made aware of by the OASIS staff and almost did not have surgery because of. It is a sad reality that doctors are people too and all of them do make mistakes from time to time. If a Doctor is making critical mistakes often then they should not be allowed to perform surgeries any longer.

  3. “critical of the AMA for failing to adequately police its own ranks.”

    Does the AMA have police powers? Don’t think so.

    Think this is a matter for the state. Believe here in Arkansas the State Medical Board would have jerked his license some time ago.

  4. PatricParamedic,
    Where were you when my own personal hell re: botched spinal surgery occurred? I have never read a better retort to the “we need tort reform” argument.

  5. PatricParamedic,
    You are right, except Police might be the one profession that evades discipline more than doctors, but they are neck neck!

  6. For all his lawsuits, it is of value to note that David Chao, MD doesn’t even rank in the top-100 of medical miscreants in this category, over the most recent 5 years. We have in our files cases of physicians who have racked up 3 times that number, including 2 MDs who – and fasten your seat belt – accumulated over 100 law suits in a single a year. I’ll gleefully provide the basic math: That’s 8 per month.

    Oh. And with the exception of those behind bars, nearly all of them are allowed by our society to continue playing with peoples’ bodies for money.

    Now consider this for a moment:

    In an astonishing 98 out of every 100 physician-caused injuries that we know of, NO lawsuit occurs as a result, AT ALL.

    THINK about that. 100 patients injured – 2 patients (or their families) even attempt litigation in the first place.

    I urge you to uncover one other profession that is at least marginally responsible for the deaths and serious injury of nearly 200,000 citizens per year.

    I encourage you to locate ONE other profession that evades more appropriate discipline.

    So the next time you hear someone in the medical profession utter the oft-parroted phrase, “Doctors need tort reform,” try answering this way:

    “Of course you do. And as soon as the ethical peers of the thousands of incompetent, lazy and thieving doctors put their foot down and demand license revocations, we’ll help you file that brief.”

    The ugly truth is that American health care fosters a convenient garden for some truly nasty and predatory bugs. They have been seduced by greed and their apathy distracts them
    from their original purpose of caring and service.

    And an effective eradication program is way, way overdue.

  7. It has long been a history of the NFL that many team doctors were more involved with the fortunes of the teams, rather than the interests of their patients the players. A book “North Dallas Forty” was written by former NFLer Pete Gent, which although purportedly a novel, was assumed to be a “Roman A Clef.” In it their were vivid descriptions of injured players being sent out to play to their physical detriment by the extensive use of pain-killers. The fact that NFL team doctors become celebraties seems to work in some cases by causing amnesia to one’s Hippocratic Oath.

  8. It is important to note that of the 108 prescriptions, some of them were allegedly for controlled substances. It is my understanding that a physician can self-prescribe, but that is limited to other than controlled substances.

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