Joan Rivers’s medical treatment was no laughing matter

The rich and famous are different. Or so we all like to think. A wealthy celebrity is immune from ordinary problems, and when they become ill, receive the best care. This may be true, but not always.

The death of Joan Rivers came as a shock, as she was not seriously ill when she visited an endoscopy clinic for what was to have been a routine procedure. The endoscopy was to examine her throat, as she had complained of a sore throat.

But during the procedure, her blood pressure and pulse began to decrease “precipitously”, yet the physicians in the operating room failed to react.

According to a report issued by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS), her vital signs began to decline at 9:12 a.m., but it was 16 minutes later before the doctors in the clinic began efforts to resuscitate Rivers.

She never regained consciousness and died a week later after the botched procedure. Her daughter has hired attorneys and is apparently considering suing the clinic for the medical malpractice that her mother suffered.

The report from the CMMS found “numerous irregularities” at the clinic, including allowing a doctor without proper credentials to operate. There were questions involving the dose of anesthesia Rivers received, and the clinic failed to weigh Rivers, as body weight is necessary to calculate a proper dose.

The timeline appears to suggest some degree of confusion or obliviousness in the operating room and that the medical personal failed to grasp what was happening to their patient.

The deficiencies uncovered in the report could lead to the clinic losing its Medicare and Medicaid funding. When it comes to medical procedures, even if routine, may turn deadly if doctors are negligent.

The New York Times, “Joan Rivers’s Treatment Had Numerous Violations, U.S. Inquiry Finds,” Anemona Hartocollis, November 10, 2014

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