What happened at Joan Rivers’ clinic?

Opinion, NakedLaw

We must resist the impulse to assume that the death of Joan Rivers was due to her age, 81. In fact, she was a vibrant, hardworking comic simultaneously working on two television shows, two online shows, doing frequent stand-up, specials, shopping channel appearances, plus appearing in commercials and documentaries – a dizzying amount of work that would put to shame show business folks half her age. She had a full slate of live stand-up performances in London scheduled for next month. As Sarah Silverman tweeted, “she wasn’t done.”

Rivers went in to a New York City clinic on August 28 for what’s been described as minor surgery on her vocal cords, went into cardiac arrest, was then rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital and died days later.

What happened?

A full and thorough investigation must happen so that we get the answer.

And in fact, the clinic is now under investigation.  At this point no one is accusing it of any wrongdoing as the inquiry is only just beginning to gather the facts. The New York State Health Department says it has opened a “full investigation” into Yorkville Endoscopy Center in New York City, which is automatic and routine after a complication that results in death.  Investigators have already visited the clinic, as well they should.

Yorkville Endoscopy is a relatively new clinic, established in 2013 and inspected by the State Health Department prior to opening, as required by law. So far, it has had no complaints or violations regarding the facility.

Why was the surgery performed in a clinic, not a hospital? Were all proper procedures followed? Were all risks fully disclosed to her? Were backup, lifesaving procedures and equipment in place? These and many other questions remain to be answered.

Every surgery has risks of complications. Even the best doctors have patients who suffer from negative outcomes. But when minor surgery results in death, we need to know what went wrong. It’s too late to save the life of the epic, screamingly funny Joan Rivers, but perhaps we can save the next life by understanding this tragedy.

In her final days, Rivers stood for causes she believed in, officiating a gay wedding, and speaking up for the state of Israel. We honor her memory by taking up this cause, demanding accountability and answers as to what happened.

Was her death preventable?

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.

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