Joan Rivers’ Daughter Files Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Melissa Rivers, daughter of comedy legend Joan Rivers, has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Yorkville Endoscopy, the clinic in Manhattan where her mother stopped breathing while undergoing a procedure in August 2014. Rivers’ medical malpractice suit alleges the clinic allowed an unapproved doctor into the procedure room, performed a biopsy that Rivers had not consented to, disregarded the advice of an anesthesiologist when it became apparent Rivers was in distress, failed to perform a tracheotomy in a timely manner, and that the doctors generally behaved like groupies. The amount of the damages Rivers is seeking has not yet been disclosed.
In a statement, Melissa Rivers called filing the suit one of the hardest decisions she’s ever had to make. “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. The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect, and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible. Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better. It is my goal to make sure this kind of horrific medical treatment never happens to anyone again.”
Also named in the suit is ear, nose, and throat specialist Gwen Korovin. Korovin is not an employee of Yorkville Endoscopy, but was Rivers’ personal doctor who accompanied her to the procedure. It is reported Korovin is the doctor who performed the unauthorized biopsy that caused Rivers to stop breathing. The suit alleges the clinic’s medical director and lead doctor, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, should not have allowed Korovin to be in the room during the procedure, let alone allowed her to participate in the procedure. Cohen was dismissed from the clinic very shortly after Rivers’ death.
The suit also confirms rumors that doctors were taking selfies during the procedure and took cell phone pictures of Rivers while she was sedated.
An autopsy found that Joan Rivers died of brain damage caused by low blood oxygen. Rivers went to Yorkville Endoscopy on August 28 to undergo an outpatient procedure to examine her vocal cords. During the procedure, it’s alleged that a biopsy, which Rivers had not consented to, was performed, which caused her to stop breathing. Rivers was then taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she remained for a week before dying on September 4, 2014. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she had already sustained irreversible brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She was 81.
Following Rivers’ death, Yorkville was investigated by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who found the clinic had allowed an unapproved doctor into the procedure room, failed to get patient consent for procedures, and made mistakes in keeping medical records such as failing to note Rivers’ weight before she was sedated. The clinic was given until March 2nd to become compliant with their standards and is currently working to get up to become compliant. If the clinic does not meet these standards, they could be barred from charging Medicare or Medicaid for services they provide for patients.
Yorkville Endoscopy released a statement that did not directly address the lawsuit. “The Rivers family has, and has always had, our deepest sympathies and condolences. The 51 physicians, nurses, and staff who currently work at Yorkville remain firmly committed to providing the highest quality of care to their patients.”