Out of bounds? Deadspin publishes claim that Chargers' team doctor is a drunk and a terrible physician
In a lengthy, 5,244-word article published today, Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky carefully and articulately makes the case that San Diego Chargers team physician Dr. David Chao is a "drunk quack". Those are awfully strong words. Much of the argument is built on allegations from Dr. Chao's former vendors who have had billing disputes with Dr. Chao's office. The "quack" accusation cherry-picks a handful of negligence complaints spread over a 15-year period. Quite pointedly, Deadspin flat-out calls the guy "a drunk". Is this really fair journalism? Let's dig in.
The Deadspin article offers the headline "The Chargers Doctor is a Drunk Quack". Author Barry Petchesky uses DUI records, court testimony, and medical records to support the claim that Dr. Chao is indeed a "drunk quack". Here's the thing -- this is not a new story, and Deadspin has been chasing it for nearly a year. Charges against Dr. Chao have been dismissed by independent regulatory authorities with more medical expertise than, say, sports bloggers. The charges are serious, though, and do deserve a look.
Dr. Chao is a "drunk" - The claim that Dr. Chao is a "drunk" is based on his two DUIs and his admission that he had been in a bar on an evening when he should have been on call. Admittedly, the "in a bar when he should have been on call" story is quite damning.
On the evening of February 9, 2007, one of Dr. Chao's patients had a deadly blood clot. Dr. Chao had left the hospital, and claimed he was visiting his sick mother. Chao repeated this claim under oath. Receipts proved Dr. Chao was at an expensive nightclub. It all sounds sleazy, but the state medical board cleared Dr. Chao of any malpractice charges.
Dr. Chao also has two DUIs, one as recently as 2006. I don't know if that makes someone "a drunk". Frankly, it's his pill use that seems a little unusual to me.
Barry Petchesky calls Dr. Chao a "drunk". Barry Petchesky is holding a beer in his Gawker profile picture. I am just pointing this out. After all, who goes around holding a beer in their employer's online profile picture?
Dr. Chao is a "quack" - Dr. Chao does indeed have several complaints from former patients over the years. I would think this is common for someone practicing orthopedic surgery over the last 18 years.
The Deadspin report does allege some fairly serious charges. There is a California Medical Board charge pending against Dr. Chao currently. But again, the guy has a pattern of getting cleared by the California Medical Board in each of the previous cases. Chao is either lucky, or actually not that bad of a doctor.
Most of the cases Deadspin cites are from an investigative reporter who has played Captain Ahab to Chao's Moby Dick for years. Deadspin's reason for running the story is their claim that "In recent weeks, we've learned some more supposedly irrelevant things about Chao." But these are all old stories being brought up one more time. This is not a wild new scandal, it's just a buffet of previous allegations. Next time, Deadspin, stick to genitals and poop.