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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Report Confirms Unauthorized Biopsy in Joan Rivers Case Potential Malpractice Lawsuit

A potential medical malpractice lawsuit against a New York clinic is likely to get a significant boost following a report released by the New York Department of Health and Human Services report into Joan Rivers’ death in August this year.

The report, issued last week, indicates that the 81-year-old comedian went into hypoxic arrest as a result of a lack of oxygen caused by the drug propofol. The drug is used as a sedative, but it appears that Ms. Rivers did not consent to the endoscopy taking place on her during a visit to the clinic on August 28th.

The report also concludes that medical personnel at the clinic did not respond appropriately as her condition deteriorated.

Joan Rivers was transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital after losing consciousness, but died several days later.

The comedian had gone to the clinic, Yorkville Endoscopy, based in Manhattan, for what was supposed to be a minor procedure on her vocal chords. The report makes clear what was agreed to and what was not agreed to during the visit to Yorkville. It seems that while she had consented to having an upper airway endoscopy with associated removal of polyps and a dilation of her esophagus, as well as the use of a general anesthetic, she had not given consent to a prior laryngoscopy which involved placing tubes into Ms. Rivers’ windpipe.

The report indicates that the clinic had not taken a documented measurement of Ms. Rivers’ weight, which is apparently crucial in determining the correct dose of the sedative (propofol) to administer during the procedure.

The report concludes that Rivers went into what is classified as a “laryngospasm” caused by an incorrect dose of propofol and this then caused her airways to become blocked. She would have lost consciousness because of a lack of oxygen.

The report also documented a more disturbing element of Rivers’ death. It said that medical personnel did not respond quickly enough when she went into hypoxic arrest. One staff member at the clinic even took time to take photos with his mobile phone commenting that the comedian might like to see pictures of her “recovery.”

Joan Rivers’ daughter has already engaged a New York medical malpractice attorney’s firm to represent her in a potential lawsuit against the clinic, which is now being investigated officially by the Department of Health and Human Affairs as a result of the report.

The law firm had been engaged last month. Melissa Rivers, Joan Rivers’ daughter, commented on the report after its release and said that it showed that there was “misconduct and mismanagement” at the clinic as a result of “multiple failings” in established procedure.

Yorkville Endoscopy has said that it is cooperating with any investigation into what went wrong in August and has already made changes to its internal procedures as a result of the death.

There is nothing worse for a family than to lose a loved one through unnecessary negligence when they are in what should be professional medical care. While a lawsuit for medical malpractice or negligence is always an option when someone has been made more ill or been injured while in the care of a clinic or hospital, it will never bring someone’s health or life back again.

If you, or a member of your family, have experienced any sort of medical negligence in the New York area, you should promptly contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney like Richard S. Jaffe Esq. of the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe. You can contact him for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.

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