The sudden death of comedienne Joan Rivers might be linked to medical malpractice.

The tragic, untimely death of legendary comedienne and fashion maven Joan Rivers has shocked the nation. Though the investigation into the circumstances that led to her death is ongoing, theories abound as to how the beloved funny woman died following what should have been a routine, minimally invasive procedure. As more details become public about Rivers’ final days, questions have been raised as to whether her death may have been the result of medical malpractice on the part of individual physicians or the clinic where her procedure took place.

The Unique Circumstances Behind Her Death

Rivers passed away on September 4, 2014, a week after going into cardiac and respiratory arrest during a planned endoscopy. Endoscopies are relatively straightforward and typically uneventful procedures during which a specially trained physician guides a small camera down the patient’s throat to view the esophagus, larynx, stomach or the upper part of the small intestine. According to media coverage, Rivers was undergoing the elective procedure because of persistent hoarseness and a chronically sore throat.

It was during the procedure that she went into cardiac arrest, but there have been conflicting reports about what precisely preceded her cardiac issues. Some news outlets have reported that her regular physician, supervising the endoscopy, chose to take biopsies from her vocal chords after seeing an abnormality. The facility — Yorkville Endoscopy — denies this, however, stressing that her physician doesn’t have privileges to perform biopsies there, and that no biopsies were performed at the clinic. If an unauthorized physician did, in fact, perform an unauthorized procedure on Rivers, those actions might constitute medical malpractice. Given the unusual circumstances of her death and the lack of consistency in media reports, the New York State Department of Health is conducting an investigation into the clinic.

Though no official timeline of events has been released, it is thought that, following the biopsy, Rivers’ vocal chords swelled, blocking her airway and causing a lack of oxygen to her brain that eventually resulted in respiratory and cardiac arrest. According to the medical examiner’s office, an autopsy performed on the famed entertainer was inconclusive.

Possible Causes Of Action

Should the investigation of Rivers’ death reveal postoperative negligence or medical malpractice by one or more physicians, it is possible that her estate could have a cause of action against the clinic itself and/or individual doctors. Only time will tell, though, if this case warrants legal action. It may turn out to be that Rivers, at 81 years old and with a diagnosed heart problem, simply passed away, or it could be that negligence caused her death. If you have been injured — or you have tragically lost a loved one — because of medical malpractice, surgical error or the negligent or reckless actions of any health care provider, speak with a skilled attorney in your area to learn more about possible causes of action you may have available.

Keywords: medical malpractice, medical negligence, postoperative negligence, medical mistake, surgical error