Two years later, a settlement has been reached in the medical malpractice lawsuit over the death of Joan Rivers. The comedienne died in 2014 as a result of an outpatient medical procedure that went wrong.
Although the dollar amount of the settlement has not yet been made public, the doctors at the practice took responsibility for Rivers’s death and reached an agreement with her daughter, Melissa Rivers.
The case of Joan Rivers is very similar to that of many people. In fact, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found that at least 1.5 million people are harmed each year due to medical errors.
Melissa Rivers filed the lawsuit against five physicians from Yorkville Endoscopy in 2015. According to the New York Times, the doctors named in the lawsuit are Dr. Gwen Korovin, an ear, nose and throat specialist; Dr. Renuka Bankulla, the main anesthesiologist, along with two other anesthesiologists; and Dr. Lawrence Cohen, who stepped down as the clinic’s medical director.
Clinical Advisor reports that in the lawsuit, the younger Rivers alleged a number of errors and inappropriate behavior took place. These acts include performing unauthorized medical procedures, failing to act as Joan’s vital signs deteriorated, and using a cell phone to take ‘selfies’ with an unconscious Joan.
On August 28, 2014, Joan Rivers entered the outpatient surgery center complaining of a hoarse voice and sore throat. She was scheduled to undergo a laryngoscopy, an examination of her voice box and vocal cords, and an endoscopy, which consists of looking at the upper digestive system and is done while the patient is under anesthesia.
One of the anesthesiologists expressed concern that Joan’s swollen vocal cords could compromise her breathing, but her concerns were dismissed and the procedure went on. After Rivers’s chords closed and she had been denied oxygen too long, she went into cardiac arrest. She died seven days later after being taken off of life support.
“The parties agreed to settle this case to avoid protracted litigation. We remain committed to providing quality, compassionate health care services,” said a spokesman for Yorkville Endoscopy.