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More details emerge in lawsuit over Joan Rivers' death

We have previously written about the untimely and tragic death of comedienne Joan Rivers. In late August of 2014, Rivers suffered serious complications while under anesthesia at a New York endoscopy clinic and died not long afterward. While serious or fatal complications can occur even under the best of circumstances, Rivers' daughter has filed a lawsuit alleging that her injuries and death were the result of medical negligence.

According to the complaint, Rivers' medical providers violated a number of New York state laws as well as patient privacy laws. Among other allegations, the lawsuit claims that the clinic was guilty of negligent hiring and policymaking as well as failure to train.

The alleged chain of events is detailed and somewhat complicated. In short, Joan Rivers went into the clinic and signed informed consent documents for a certain procedure, which she received. While she was under anesthesia, her doctor allegedly ordered a second procedure which Rivers had not consented to. Moreover, the doctor allegedly tasked another medical specialist with performing the procedure even though that individual was unqualified and did not have credentials to perform it.

Both procedures involved feeding equipment into River's throat, and the anesthesiologist allegedly raised concerns that the second procedure might lead to swelling that could potentially block Rivers' airway. These concerns were allegedly ignored. Also allegedly ignored were signs that Rivers was suffering from a dangerously low heart rate and low blood pressure.

In addition to these allegations, the plaintiffs claim that Rivers' doctor chose to snap a cellphone "selfie" next to Rivers while she was under anesthesia. While the alleged selfie was not dangerous, it likely violated the HIPAA.

Medical procedures are often complicated and nuanced. Unfortunately, some doctors use the "it's complicated" excuse to cover up their own mistakes, hoping that patients and their families will not ask too many questions.

Thankfully, good medical malpractice attorneys understand how to consult with medical experts in order to help jurors understand complicated procedures and understand how defendants deviated from accepted standards of care.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Outrage Over Last Operation on Joan Rivers," Rose Bouboushian, Jan. 29, 2015

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