The death of comic icon Joan Rivers is a harsh and tragic reminder that every medical procedure, no matter how routine, comes with its share of complications. Rivers passed away on September 4 after she went into cardiac arrest during a procedure on her vocal cords on August 28. An investigation is ongoing into the circumstances that led to her demise, but preliminary reports indicate that her air supply may have been cut off during the procedure.
More disturbing elements were recently revealed. According to CNN.com, Rivers was scheduled to undergo an endoscopy on her vocal cords, but apparently her personal ear, nose and throat doctor performed a biopsy (that Rivers reportedly did not give her consent for). Even more troubling, the physician reportedly took a selfie of himself and Rivers while she was under anesthesia.
The clinic where the biopsy was reportedly performed recently released a statement denying that the procedure took place. It also announced that the physician who completed the endoscopy had resigned from the clinic. While there have been no formal allegations of wrongdoing and no discipline has been meted out, the events touch upon the propriety that doctors must act with when performing procedures on patients.
Information like this may prove to be important as the investigation proceeds, as well as in future investigations of medical malpractice complaints. It may lead to proof that a physician breached the duty of care needed to properly treat a patient and avoid the complications that could lead to injuries and even fatal results.