Medical Malpractice Case Makes Headline News

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On August 18, 2014, a healthy 81-year-old woman arrived at a medical clinic for a routine endoscopic procedure. The most-recent reports suggest that the patient complained of hoarseness, as well as a sore throat, and the doctor recommended the procedure to identify the cause. However, the procedure turned out to be anything but routine. While on the operating table, the patient suffered from "anoxic encephalopathy due to hypoxic arrest." In other words, she was deprived of air long enough that her blood-oxygen levels plummeted, causing severe brain damage. The once-vibrant patient rested in a coma for a week, until her family made the difficult decision to shut off life-support. With the funeral now past, sources indicate the woman's daughter is contemplating filing a multi-million dollar medical malpractice and wrongful-death lawsuit. What Went Wrong If this case sounds familiar, it's because the patient was the famous actress and comedienne, Joan Rivers. Her daughter, Melissa, has reportedly been working with a lawyer to finalize details on moving forward with the suit. Information that has been released about the case has been somewhat conflicting, but there are several issues, which appear to be steadfast. The first issue is that Ms. Rivers only consented to an endoscopy. However, her personal physician arrived with her the day of the procedure. The physician, Gwen Korovin, who is an ear, nose, and throat specialist and typically caters to stars, was supposed to simply observe. Instead of the clinic's physician, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, beginning with the endoscopy, Dr. Korovin stepped in and performed a laryngoscopy after Ms. Rivers was sedated. The laryngoscopy may have been able to yield clues if Ms. Rivers' chief complaints were caused by vocal cord issues. Even so, Ms. Rivers did not consent to the procedure and due to its invasive nature and potential to cause the airway to swell shut, it is generally done in a hospital. Other Concerns A federal agency has investigated the case and noted several other issues with Ms. Rivers' care that day.

  • Her weight was not taken, which was necessary to determine the proper amount of sedative.
  • The record of the amount of sedative that she received was altered.
  • The doctors took photos with Ms. Rivers after she was sedated.
  • Her vitals steadily dropped for 15 minutes and none of the staff on hand noticed, nor acted to help her.
  • This reduction in pulse and blood pressure began at 9:12, while resuscitation didn't commence until at least 9:28.

Can Melissa Win a Wrongful-Death Medical Malpractice Suit? In order for the case to have merit, the lawyers will not only have to prove that the doctor(s) acted negligently, but additionally, that their actions caused Ms. Rivers' death. While it certainly sounds like they were negligent, it's also possible that the drug used to sedate Ms. Rivers caused her hypoxic arrest. Without having all the details of events, it's difficult to say whether the lawyers will be able to prove if it was the laryngoscopy or the medication, which ultimately ended her life, or how big of a role the reduction in vitals will play in the case. Furthermore, these decisions will likely lie in the hands of a jury.

Charleston Medical Malpractice Attorney

This case may well be proof that anyone can be a victim of medical malpractice. If you have been injured, or have lost a loved one, because of a medical professional's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Moreover, your story might be able to prevent the same tragedy from happening to someone else. Our online form is available or you can speak to one of our lawyers about your case by calling 1(800)610-2546.

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