Medical errors can happen to anyone; and yes, even well-known people like celebrities can be victims. Take the case of the late Joan Rivers. Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky, she was known as a great actress, TV host, producer and author of twelve best-selling humor books and memoirs. She could have written more books, continued her famous Fashion Police show and continued to do what she does best which is to make people laugh if only she was given the proper medical treatment she deserves.
CNN delivered the news; at a glorious age of 81, Joan Rivers passed away on fourth of September, 2014 at Mount Sinai Hospital New York. This happened few days later after Ms. Rivers had a supposed to be straightforward procedure called Endoscopy in Yorkville Clinic. The Endoscopy performed in the Manhattan clinic was a routine procedure intended to check Joan River’s voice changes and what was causing her stomach reflux.
6 Reasons of Joan Rivers’ Death
1. Failure of the medical team to acquire informed consent on every procedure undertaken
The lawsuit filed by her daughter Melissa revealed that the medical team who performed the procedure to Ms.Rivers also performed a procedure called Laryngoscopy which was Rivers did not give a written consent to. The staff who treated Ms.Rivers used Laryngoscopy to get a better look at her vocal cords and glottis but then her vital signs started deteriorating during this particular unauthorized procedure. A New York medical examiner even said that Joan Rivers died because of lack of oxygen supply to her brain due to vocal cords spasm that caused Ms.Rivers to stop breathing which all happened during the Laryngoscopy procedure. Also, a biopsy was performed which has no records of written consent either.
2. The medical team did not consistently record the dose of sedative (Propofol) administered
According to the Daily Mail, the New York Department of Health and Human Services, the clinic’s records noted an inconsistent Propofol log with a total figure of 300 milligrams administered to Ms. Rivers which was surprisingly denied by the anesthesiologist saying that only 120 milligrams was given.
This is an important finding that also might have contributed to Ms.Rivers’ suffering. In 2009, the late King of Pop Michael Jackson was said to have overdose with the same sedative drug Propofol which lead to his death. Other sources are even claiming that the anesthesiologist who was with the Joan Rivers’ operating team was the same doctor Michael Jackson had.
3. One of the doctors, Korovin, did not have privilege to use the clinic facilities nor is she certified perform the procedure
Dr. Gwen Korovin is a famous doctor with her celebrity clients including Hugh Jackman, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga and other high-profile people. She has been a successful doctor who came to the stars’ aid for their voice problems.
However in this occasion, Korovin is only supposed to observe the operation but she was the one who decided to perform despite the concerns voiced by other doctor; Korovin was responsible for the Laryngoscopy which caused the vocal cords spasm that greatly compromised Ms.Rivers’ vital signs.
Performing an unauthorized procedure was not at all permitted by New York health law.
4. Rivers was not weighed prior to administration of the sedative drug
What is the importance of weight in relation to Ms. Rivers’ procedure? Yes, a person’s weight is a vital information needed to accurately measure the amount of drug to be administered. In this case, Yorkville clinic skipped this important step which just tally with the fact that they had an inconsistent record regarding Ms. Rivers’ Propofol intake. Overdose or underdose, it’s just ethically wrong to guess medicine dosage.
5. One of the doctors in the clinic took a “selfie” with the actress when she while she was unconscious
All healthcare professionals know that it is wrong to take photos of a patient especially in an operating/procedure room. This of course can be allowed upon patient’s consent or if she requested it herself.
Dr. Lawrence Cohen who performed the main procedure, EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy), or simply Endoscopy, took a photo of himself and Joan Rivers while she was still unconscious. He announced that the actress might want to see the photo he took at the recovery room.
It is such a shame to know that there was time for taking a “selfie” during that crucial time while Joan Rivers was actually on her way to an avoidable death.
6. The staff failed to detect the deteriorating vital signs and provide an immediate intervention that could have saved the actress
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency released an anonymous report that did match important details about Ms.Rivers’ case according to CNN. CMS identified that Yorkville clinic failed to closely monitor the patient and identify the decline of her vital signs.
It is shocking to know that while that controversial selfie was being taken, Joan Rivers was actually losing her life and the staff was too negligent to observe this. The Daily Mail shared that Rivers had a very low blood pressure dropping at 86/49 and that no pulse was recorded.
Also, CMS said that the staff failed to provide a timely intervention particularly during the time Ms.Rivers’ vital signs began to plunge due to lack of oxygen to the airway following a second Larygoscopy performed by Dr. Korovin which she said was deemed necessary to recheck the actress’ vocal cords despite the advice of fellow doctor Renuka Bankulla not to go for it.
Aside from that, Korovin furthermore neglected her patient and was accused of ‘running away’. She allegedly left the procedure room when Ms.River’s vital statistics started to get critical. Dr. Korovin could have saved Ms.Rivers’ life as she was sought by Dr.Bankulla to perform a procedure called cricothyrotomy which is an emergency procedure of puncturing the neck to create a temporary airway.
There are many versions of why Joan Rivers died that including cardiac arrest, overdose, and therapeutic complications. Reported by the Daily Mail, the official cause of death was “anoxic encephalopathy due to hypoxic arrest during Laryngoscopy and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy with Propofol sedation.”[quote_center]”Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better. It is my goal to make sure that this kind of horrific medical treatment never happens to anyone again.”[/quote_center]
Five months have passed, what has been done? The late actress’ daughter, Melissa, filed a multi-million dollar case against the endoscopy clinic. The case was filed on January 27, 2015 with the help of a powerhouse Manhattan law firm. The lawsuit has sought for unspecified damages, The Associated Press reported. It is speculated that the family of the late actress can win a huge claim from the case since the actress was working on books and had TV appearances at the time of her death.
Melissa said filing this lawsuit was one of the hardest decisions she ever had to make. She strongly wants to fight for the case as she believes that no family should ever experience the same thing her family did.
The daughter said, “The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and, frankly, almost incomprehensible,”
Following the incident, it was reported that all the medical practitioners who was involved in Joan Rivers’ case were dismissed. Also, the endoscopy clinic lost its accreditation both from the government and industry. According to ABC News The clinic will no longer be allowed to issued Medicare reimbursements and private insurers won’t be able to determine procedure covers anymore following the clinic’s certification loss.
Surprisingly, the clinic vows to still continue operation and appeal for the lost accreditation.
May this be an example to us all… Joan Rivers or not, this is but a huge eye opener to one and all of the existence of medical malpractice. We may think some procedures regarding our health can be very simple and straightforward but the truth is, medical errors can kill no matter how straightforward procedures are. Irresponsible healthcare personnel can easily destroy someone’s life.
What can we do about it? We should stay vigilant, informed and supportive of each other. Whether we are a healthcare provider or a patient ourselves, we should always take the initiative to value our health, our lives, and our fellow human beings.
Medical negligence is the same as the act of killing, simple as.
P.S. Which side do you take? Do you think the Rivers are just exagerrating the case for money or do you think the clinic and everyone involved should definitely suffer the consequences? Please comment below.