BY HAUWA INDIMI
On Sept. 4, the world lost a comic legend, 81-year-old Joan Rivers. After being on life support for a week, Rivers passed due to complications during a throat surgery to work on her vocal cords. Rivers, who died at Mount Sinai Hospital, was reported to have died from unspecified medical complications. On Oct. 16, CNN confirmed that Rivers died from brain damage.
This was due to insufficient oxygen getting to her brain. The medical examiner identified the cause of her death, as anoxic encephalopathy caused by hypoxic arrest, a condition in which the brain tissue is deprived of oxygen.
Her death was not a shocking matter as a health official confirmed, “the death was classified as a therapeutic complication, which means that it was a known risk of the procedure.” Patients are requested to sign a waiver before surgery to declare their understanding of possible outcomes.
“I always tell my clients when they come through here, every time you have surgery you are playing Russian roulette,” said medical malpractice lawyer Steven Harris. “The more surgery, the more the numbers can catch up with you and as we know, Ms. Rivers had a lot of surgery.”
Harris’ statement does not prevent the Rivers’ family from filing a legal claim against the clinic where the surgery took place. Her daughter Melissa, a television co-star said, “In response to NYC’s Medical examiner’s report, we continue to be saddened by our tragic loss and grateful for the enormous outpouring love and support from the world.”
Pathologist and surgeon, Bill Lloyd told CNN, “The unanswered question is why they did not do a combat [tracheotomy]? You’ve seen in the James Bond movies. You take a ballpoint pen and puncture the thyroid cartilage and create an emergency airway for her.
They would do it with sterile instruments. And, after minute two, did anybody say, we need to start doing some CPR for her?” The acid tongued comedian’s death continues to be investigated.