David Chao, MD: There Will Be No Surprise Tox Screen for Tiger Woods

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As more details of the Tiger Woods accident emerge, one thing that won’t happen is a report of alcohol, drugs or medication in his system as a definitive cause of the accident. I am not implying that Woods was or wasn’t impaired. His previous issues are well documented but that should not infer anything to the current accident.

Typically, after any motor vehicle accident a toxicology screen is a part of the routine at the emergency room. Even if one was performed the results will never come out. First off, the sheriff has stated that there has not been a request for blood tests. The reality is that any tox screen for Woods would likely never be valid due to the circumstances.

In my medical experience, when a patient is trapped with a crush type injury as Woods’ right leg was, it is routine for the paramedic to administer medication at the scene prior to extricating with the “jaws of life.” or other tools.

I confirmed my thoughts with a fire battalion chief who stated the chances were “very high” that in a circumstance like Woods’, the victim would get morphine or other narcotic medication administered. This is done to be compassionate due to the pain but also to calm the patient while he/she is freed and when he/she becomes unpinned the process of moving the victim can be very painful given the multiple fractures and crush injury.

Once medication is administered, any tox screen for legal purposes becomes null and void. Even if hypothetically the tests showed drugs distinctly different from that administered or its metabolites, for legal purposes is considered “tampered with” and cannot be used as evidence to incriminate. This was true back in my medical training days which included emergency room time and was confirmed by me to be currently true with ranking police officials.

Even if Harbor/UCLA performed a routine tox screen, which is commonly done to treat the emergency patient, those results can never become public due to HIPAA. The Sheriff’s decision to not pursue blood samples is moot in this situation.

We previously discussed the misinformation around the Woods case including the real reason why his kids won’t be visiting him in the hospital.  It is also a fallacy that tox screen results are coming.

Whatever the “black box” investigation shows, do not expect any chargers to come from impairment. Let’s just hope the additional surgeries we indicated would happen and have been ongoing, are successful. The early key going forward is not the multiple fractures but the associated soft tissue injuries.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. i hope Tiger recovers, but he will need to explain the accident, if the police cannot.

    even the car maker wants to know what happened. who wants a car that randomly drives off the road at a high rate of speed. not my kind of autopilot 😎

  2. LOL well lets see when was the last time at that location a person launched a huge 5000lb suv into the air and had to be rescued with the jaws of life through the windshield.. The speed limit there is max 45 mph and one is supposed to have control of their vehicle at all times and obey the speed limit. I too wish Eldrick a full recovery but something isn’t passing the smell test here.

  3. As an orthopedic surgeon, I could not visit my mom when she broke her hip recently since I wasn’t the treating physician. Maybe Tiger has the pull to bend the rules on visitors or maybe the hospital clamps down harder on him to avoid the optics of favoritism. 🤷‍♂️

    • Regional differences and yes there may be ways to sneak and break the rules. Question is does Tiger have the juice to break the rules or does his celebrity hurt him and the hospital can’t be seen making exceptions for him.

  4. This Sheriff has no control of his department. He has active gang members in his higher ranks. If Newsome gers recalled and Richard Grinnell wins . Watch out. He is going to dismantle that political corruption.

  5. Hope he recovers but something stinks here. That type of accident doesn’t just happen without something fishy going on. Even if it was just speeding on that type of road…well that’s understandable how that type of accident would happen.

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