Early last month, the world lost a noted entertainer. Joan Rivers died. She was 81. Since then, there have been loads of questions about what exactly happened and whether medical error might have had something to do with the comedienne’s death.
What’s known for sure is that Rivers went into a Manhattan clinic at the end of August for a routine throat procedure that required some anesthesia. During the visit, she went into cardiac arrest and slipped into unconsciousness. She was taken to the hospital, but never woke up. She died a week later.
On Oct. 16, The New York Times reported that the medical examiner’s office had ruled that Rivers died from what amounted to brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She had stopped breathing during the throat exam. The official language of the report said that the death was a “predictable complication of medical therapy.”
On its face that might seem to mitigate claims that malpractice was involved, but a review in the Journal of Forensic Sciences of New York City said that such a finding doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility that mistakes were made. Indeed, another ear, nose and throat specialist told the newspaper after reading the autopsy report that several errors would have had to have occurred to kill a patient under such circumstances.
So the question remains, just what did happen?
The International Business Times, citing a report by TMZ, says that Rivers’ daughter, Melissa Rivers, isn’t satisfied with the autopsy’s findings. Besides the report’s ambiguities, there is a report by the New York State Health Department which said that the clinic where events took place was found to be in violation of four standards required for proper accreditation.
According to IBT, lawyers have advised Rivers’ daughter that the only way she may have to press for answers now is through a suit. That would force clinic staff to provide depositions under oath and explain what took place.
One thing is certain, whenever anyone suffers loss due to suspected negligence they have the right to seek just compensation. And speaking with an experienced attorney is the first step in exercising that right.
Source: The New York Times, “Joan Rivers Died From Complication in Treatment, Officials Say,” Anemona Hartocollis, Oct. 16, 2014