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Joan Rivers’ Death – Was It Negligence?

Joan Rivers by David Shankbone NYC 2010Risky procedure. It’s a phrase that we see all too often in the cases of poor medical outcomes. We have seen the phrase more in recent news in the wake of Joan Rivers’ death. Yes, any time a person is placed under anesthesia, there is a risk. But isn’t medical technology advanced enough to minimize that risk in today’s day and age?

There is always a chance of having an allergic reaction to the drugs used to induce a state of deep unconsciousness. If we are to believe rumors, however, Ms. Rivers underwent surgical procedures a number of times, making an acute allergic reaction questionable.

You can find numbers that are on the side of risk or on the side of safety. In fact, a medical website called HCP Live reports that 10.8% of the time, anesthetics cause perioperative (or after an operation) cardiac arrest. When you look at the information from Mayo Clinic, you discover that it’s actually this: 10.8% of all cardiac arrests that occurred preoperatively were determined to be caused by anesthesia. This translates to 0.5 heart events per 10,000 patients.

This leads many people to believe that, in this case, Ms. Rivers’ death may not have been due to risk of procedure but, in fact, due to medical negligence. Let us explain.

When medical malpractice is being considered, there are two omissions on the part of medical staff that are looked for:

  • An omission or departure from usual and customary medical practice
  • That omission or departure as a substantial cause of injury or death

Just as you would not excuse an inattentive driver who caused an accident in which you sustained injury, we should be very careful in excusing the doctors and medical staff involved in Ms. Rivers’ final procedure. Where was the failure? In properly ventilating or medicating their patient.

What was to be a perhaps simple outpatient procedure resulted in the attempt at a biopsy and, ultimately, in Ms. Rivers’ death. Unfortunately, due to contradicting reports, we may never know if her death could have been avoided, but we assume, with the information at hand, that it could have been.

Any medical procedure is not without risk. This fact is the reason that patients undergo preoperative testing and evaluation. It is also why, in some cases, the results of this testing leads to the cancellation of procedures.

If you believe that you are or have been the victim of medical malpractice or believe you have a case for wrongful death, please contact Auger & Auger. Our wrongful death attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve. Do not believe everything that you are told by medical staff. Let our trained investigators look into your case and discover the facts. We are here to assist you in any way that we can – call today!

Posted In: In The News, Wrongful Death
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