After the death of famous comedienne Joan Rivers last week as a result of complications from an outpatient procedure, New York state authorities are launching an investigation into the clinic where the procedure was performed. The operation was an elective procedure on Rivers’ vocal chords and was performed at the outpatient clinic Yorkville Endoscopy. According to The Legal Examiner:
At some point during the medical procedure she stopped breathing and was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she went into cardiac arrest. Doctors placed her in a medically-induced coma and started life support. On Sunday, they started lifting her out of the coma and on Wednesday daughter Melissa Rivers reported that she had been moved out of the intensive care unit a private room.
Rivers died on Thursday, Sept. 4. One questionable aspect of the case concerns Rivers’ status during her transfer from the endoscopy clinic to Mt. Sinai Hospital. It is unclear how long her brain had gone without oxygen before she was put into a coma. Questions are also being asked concerning the role of the anesthesiologist in the procedure and the strength of the sedative used. The risks associated with anesthesiology are much higher as the age of the patient increases. Cardiac arrest is one of the risks associated with certain sedatives used in these types of procedures. Rivers is reported to have been in good health in the time period leading up to the procedure.
The events surrounding Rivers’ death demonstrate that medical negligence can happen even during seemingly routine procedures. The perception of outpatient clinics as low-risk facilities does not always hold true. Medical negligence can lead to serious issues, including injury and wrongful death, no matter the facility.