Many Kansas City residents who enjoyed Joan Rivers’ no-holds-barred attitude and sharp wit were deeply saddened to hear of the comedienne’s passing in early September. However, following an investigation by federal officials, many of Rivers’ fans turned from sad to outraged.
Last week, an investigative report from the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services showed that many lapses in judgment and protocol took place during the routine medical procedure Rivers was undergoing when she went into cardiac arrest due to a lack of oxygen. The 81-year-old was taken off of life support a week later.
First, the report indicated that Rivers had not consented to a procedure that was performed on her prior to the scheduled upper endoscopy, a minor vocal cord procedure. It also showed that the surgeons who were operating on Rivers failed “to identify [Rivers’] deteriorating vital signs and provide timely intervention during the procedure.”
Additionally, the report stated that Rivers’ weight was not indicated on the medical record and the amount of anesthesia she was given did not match the amount that was listed on the medical record. Weight is a critical factor in deciding how much of the powerful anesthesia to administer.
Finally, in a bizarre lapse of judgment, the report indicated that at least one of the surgeons posed for a picture with Rivers while she was under anesthesia on the operating table.
Perhaps if the doctors had been less focused on taking “selfies” with their patient and more focused on the care that they were providing the tragic outcome could have been avoided.
Many Americans fear going under the knife for this very reason but are assured by medical workers that the risks are very low, especially during an elective surgery. However, as Rivers’ death reminds us, no one is immune from falling victim to medical malpractice, not even celebrities who can afford the best care money can buy.
Source: CBS New York, “Report Claims Multiple Failures In Joan Rivers’ Treatment At Endoscopy Clinic,” Nov. 10, 2014