Complaint filed against Chargers doctor

The state medical board has filed a disciplinary complaint against the San Diego Chargers’ longtime team doctor, and accuses him of abusing alcohol and unprofessional conduct stemming from alcohol related incidents in 2006 and 1995, it was reported Saturday.

The complaint, filed this week, seeks a hearing on the matter to consider disciplinary action on Dr. David Chao’s license to practice medicine, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Chao, an orthopedic surgeon, has operated on many pro athletes, including cyclist Floyd Landis and wrestler Rey Mysterio.

Chao, 45, was arrested in August 2006 after California Highway Patrol officers said he was weaving and drifting between lanes of on Interstate 8. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunk driving in 2007 and received five years probation and a $1,800 fine. The complaint also said Chao pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving related to alcohol in 1995.

His attorney, Jim Godes, said the 1995 case has been expunged and that the government’s case is weak because it’s built on an “isolated incident” unrelated to patient care.

The Union-Tribune reported that California law says unprofessional conduct for a licensee includes, but is not limited to, use of alcoholic beverages in a way that could be dangerous, or more than one misdemeanor related to the use of such beverages.

The Chargers declined to comment on the medical board’s complaint. A spokesperson for the medical board told the Union-Tribune that the board does not discuss pending cases.

Chao has been sued 20 times since 1998 in San Diego Superior Court for medical malpractice, negligence, personal injury or fraud. At least five of those suits have been settled with undisclosed payouts to plaintiffs. Earlier this year, he settled out of court with a man, Tom Fagan, who sued him and other care providers after he underwent knee replacement surgery by Chao in 2007.

Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla agreed to a $1.39 million settlement with Fagan, according to court records, and Chao was released from the case with no admission of liability. In 2002, Abby Joyce Rueckert was awarded a $460,000 verdict by a jury after she sued Chao for severing an artery during surgery.

Chao denied the accusations in court records.