The case of former San Diego Chargers team physician Dr. David Chao has raised questions about how much the California Medical Board is doing to discipline doctors involved in malpractice claims. Chao has been investigated for a number of cases, including that of former Chargers superstar linebacker Junior Seau, who was under Chao’s care when he committed suicide in May 2012.
Seau is merely the most famous of Chao’s patients. Tom Fagan, a local artist, saw Chao for a knee replacement in 2007, and claims that he nearly died as a result of damage to a leg artery. The leg eventually had to be amputated, and Fagan won a $1.4 million settlement against the hospital.
But Chao remains a practicing physician. Although he was recently put on probation, this doesn’t prevent him from practicing medicine. He can still perform surgeries and conduct business as usual.
Cases like Chao’s have prompted debate over the California Medical Board’s processes, particularly the lobbying efforts that critics believe lead to poor oversight and inadequate communication between the Board and patients regarding doctors’ records. Some believe that truthful, factual information about a doctor under investigation should be available even while the investigation is underway.
The Board, meanwhile, argues that doctors deserve the benefit of the doubt, and that thorough investigations take time. As a result, they say, it may take years for cases like Chao’s to conclude, especially when the investigations involve a number of patients.
Doctors and other medical professionals are in a position to make mistakes that result in serious consequences for their patients. Some of the most common include misdiagnosis, errors related to medications, surgical errors and mistakes that should simply never take place, such as operating on the wrong patient or leaving operating tools in a patient’s body.
If you believe you have been the victim of a negligent healthcare professional, meet with a skilled San Diego medical malpractice attorney with Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire.