Colorado football fans might remember a little more than two years ago when former linebacker and 12-time NFL Pro Bowl selection Junior Seau committed suicide. At the time of his death, it was reported that he had been using the prescription sleep aid Ambien. Reports now confirm that Ambien was found in his home when he died and that it had been prescribed by the former San Diego Chargers team physician.
Insomnia is often caused by anxiety and depression. Seau was known by his family to have suffered from worsening confusion, depression and atypical behavior, likely caused by head injuries suffered during the course of his career; the National Institutes of Health examined Seau’s brain and found evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Experts might agree that Seau should not have been taking the medication because of a history of depression.
Although Seau’s Ambien was prescribed by a team physician, Seau left the Chargers five years before the physician retired from the team in 2010. There was also evidence that the medication was not being taken in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. However, any claim against the prescribing physician might be prohibited by the state of California’s statute of limitations, which is two years from the date that an injury or death was suffered.
When a physician is believed to have been administering a medication incorrectly, anyone who was injured as a result may have cause to file a lawsuit in a civil court. This mistake would include not determining if any prior medical or psychological history of a patient would interfere or augment the effects of the medication. Other types of medication errors that could lead to a physician or a pharmacist being held accountable include prescribing the wrong dosage or even the wrong medication.
Source: KGTV ABC10, “Former Chargers doctor gave Ambien to Junior Seau, experts say he should not have had it,” JW August, May 23, 2014
Source: NBC Sports, “Seau’s use of Ambien questioned“, Mike Florio, May 21, 2014