It is truly the stuff of nightmares.
Something that no family should ever have to go through. The thought and belief that your loved one didn’t need to die. That the people you trusted to take care of them possibly neglected and, as a result, may have caused their death.
As someone who has dealt with a similar tragedy, I can tell you firsthand that making the decision to get to the bottom of who is responsible for your loved one’s death has very little, if anything at all, to do with money, whether you’re famous or not.
Melissa Rivers filed a lawsuit against the Yorkville Endoscopy Center, the clinic in New York City where her mother, Joan Rivers, underwent the surgery that led to her death, and said it was, “One of the most difficult decisions [she’s] ever had to make.”
You’ll surely have not forgotten last August when the 81-year-old Joan Rivers went in for a procedure on her vocal cords, stopped breathing, had to be put on life support in a coma and died a week later.
Melissa Rivers’ suit makes many claims, and while she is seeking unspecified damages, I can guarantee you, that is not the focus.
When your loved one is the victim of medical mismanagement, you want to get to the bottom of what happened, and that can be hard unless you go through legal channels. Among the allegations in Melissa Rivers’ suit, as laid out by NBC News, are:
- The doctors did not obtain [Joan] Rivers’ written consent for one of the procedures they performed on her.
- One of the doctors who was in the procedure room, Gwen Korovin, was not authorized to be there.
- Another physician, Lawrence Cohen, used his cell phone to take photos of Rivers while she was under sedation and suggested she “will like to see these in the recovery area.”
- Cohen dismissed a request by the anesthesiologist, Renuka Bankulla, for a scope to be reinserted so she could better see the area doctors were working on. “You’re such a curious cat,” Cohen said, according to the complaint. “You always want to know what’s going on.”
- The doctors failed to intubate Rivers quickly to get oxygen into her bloodstream even after they recognized that her airway was obstructed by swelling.
- After an intubation attempt had failed, they tried to perform a tracheotomy, but the doctor who would have done it, Korovin, had fled the room because she “wanted to avoid getting caught.”
- The doctors called a “code blue” on Rivers at 9:28 a.m. but didn’t dial 911 until 9:40 a.m., even though Cohen had a cell phone.
In November, the New York State Department of Health said in an official report, “The physicians in charge of the care of the patient failed to identify deteriorating vital signs and provide timely intervention during the procedure.”
The negligence is so sickening, and then you throw in the fact that the doctors thought it even remotely appropriate to snap selfies with the sedated celebrity.
Talk about adding insult to injury; the lawsuit is seriously no surprise.
But there are two major reasons why Melissa Rivers is suing, and they are bigger than money and bigger than malpractice and bigger still than the misguided photo.
Her mother deserved better, and no one deserves to go through this.
Rivers said in a statement, “What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, [my son] Cooper and I have been through.”
Ain’t that the truth.
When you have had to deal with situations such as this, you know things that you couldn’t ever wish on another human soul to know. You’ve had to do things you never would want another person to have to do.
You never want to have the question of how or why hanging over your head while you are trying to cope with everyday life without your loved one.
Rivers said, “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.”
Currently, the clinic is under threat of having its accreditation pulled if it does not come into compliance with federal regulations as both procedural and record-keeping errors were found by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.