Was Medical Malpractice to Blame for Joan Rivers’ Death?

Joan Rivers

Statistics show that medical malpractice is to blame in a high percentage of surgery-related deaths. The circumstances of comedienne Joan Rivers’ death in 2014 seem to indicate that medical malpractice was involved, although it hasn’t yet been proven. Two separate investigations, one by the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and one by the New York State Health Department, are working to address concerns regarding the manner of her death. Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, has officially filed a negligence lawsuit.

Adequate Patient Consent May Have Been Lacking

Joan Rivers died after having an elective throat procedure at the Yorkville Endoscopy Clinic in Manhattan, which was expected to be routine. Sources show that Rivers checked with her cardiologist for clearance for the endoscopy; however, many have speculated that Rivers wasn’t properly informed of the potential risks. Based on her age, she should not have been given clearance for the surgery even if she was in good health. In addition, allegations have been made over the clinic’s failure to obtain consent for performing a biopsy procedure while Rivers was sedated.

The Procedure Itself May Have Been Mishandled

Because the surgery was done at an outpatient surgical facility rather than in a hospital, the malpractice investigations are focusing on the clinic’s performance of the procedure and how the staff handled the medical emergency. The defendants have been accused of failing to recognize signs that Rivers was in medical distress, and of continuing to operate on Rivers even after her heart rate and blood pressure began to drop.

Medical experts are attempting to determine how long Rivers’ brain was deprived of oxygen before she was transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital, as a delay in emergency treatment could have lead to her death. Investigators will also decide whether the use of the drug Propofol as an anesthetic contributed to the comedienne’s demise. The clinic itself is under fire as well in the official medical malpractice case, as concerns have been expressed over whether the surgical center had the necessary equipment on hand to deal with medical emergencies.

Was Rivers’ Death Caused by Medical Malpractice?

The malpractice case Melissa Rivers filed contends that the comedienne’s death was entirely preventable. If this is true, especially if the investigations show that Rivers was not appropriately informed of the risks of having the procedure, or if proper consent was not obtained, a jury may find that negligence did indeed cause her death. If it is proven that proper medical practices were not followed during the surgery or when the routine procedure turned into an emergency situation, a jury may find that medical treatment malpractice was the cause of Rivers’ death.

Have you lost a loved one during or immediately after a routine surgical procedure, like the family of Joan Rivers did? If so, you may have grounds for pursuing a negligence case against the doctor and surgical facility. The experienced attorneys of Rasmussen and Miner in Salt Lake City can help. Contact them today to discuss your medical malpractice case.