Report on Joan Rivers’ death confirms selfies taken with her while she was under

A new Department of Heath report on Joan River’s death confirms many of the tabloid reports about her sad and very preventable death two months ago while undergoing an endoscopy. Multiple failures in protocol lead to River’s death, which occurred after her trachea closed up while she was having a laryngoscopy by her personal physician. This was an additional procedure which Rivers had not signed off on performed by a doctor who was not authorized to operate at the endoscopy facility. What’s more is that Joan was possibly given too much anesthetic because she was not weighed before the procedure, which is standard practice, and the facility lacked the basic medication that could have been administered to open her trachea and quickly save her life. Doctors did not notice that Joan had deteriorating vital signs until it was too late. Here’s more:

In a shocking new report, investigators claim Joan Rivers suffered irreversible brain damage following a series of mistakes by her personal physician as well as staffers at the Yorkville Endoscopy Clinic where she underwent both an endoscopy and laryngoscopy.

According to the report, one of the offenses included not being weighed before the procedure, which is required before administering anesthesia, in this case Propofol. In addition, the investigation, which was conducted by the New York State Dept. of Health, also found that Rivers only signed a consent form for the endoscopy, not the laryngoscopy, which was performed by the comedian’s personal physician, who did not have medical privileges at the clinic.

Melissa Rivers’s attorneys responded in a statement: “Our client, Melissa Rivers, is terribly disappointed to learn of the multiple failings on the part of medical personnel and the clinic as evidenced by the CMS report. As any of us would be, Ms. Rivers is outraged by the misconduct and mismanagement now shown to have occurred before, during and after the procedure.”

[From People]

I heard the detail about the selfie on ABC news, which claimed that a staffer at the endoscopy clinic took the photos of Joan while she was sedated, not Joan’s personal physician as has been previously reported. (The news broadcast called the photos selfies, it’s unclear if they were.) Yorkville Endoscopy states that the staffer taking the photos has been fired, as has the physician who performed Joan’s endoscopy.

If Joan was my family member, I would sue the clinic and both doctors. It’s widely expected that Melissa Rivers will file suit. RIP Joan. You may have been 81, but we expected you to continue insulting people for another 10-20 years.

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54 Responses to “Report on Joan Rivers’ death confirms selfies taken with her while she was under”

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  1. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I hope she sues them, shuts them down and has Joan’s doctor’s license to practice medicine revoked. This was more than bad luck or an accident. It was totally preventable and inexcusable. RIP Joan. Poor Melissa. It would be hard enough to lose your mother, but to know it didn’t have to happen would make it so much worse.

    • Kiddo says:

      Shut it down, Shut it all down. Imagine the level of F*ckery going on when a non-famous person with less ‘importance’ and resources is treated with this level of negligence.

      • Beatrice says:

        My first thought, too. If this could happen to a VIP like Joan Rivers, the rest of us don’t have a chance.

      • Tippy says:

        Negligence and malfeasance are far too common in the healthcare industry, but are often shrouded in secrecy.

        Had this not been a famous patient and a blatant case of malpractice details of the death might very well have been swept under the rug.

      • The Other Katherine says:


      • Sassy says:

        Joan should have had her procedure in a hospital setting due to her age. This is standard protocol. The hospital setting is designed for “at risk” patients and her age put her in that category.

    • HH says:

      Melissa seems to be handling this well; far better than I could. Her death seemed out of nowhere, and now, at least we know why.

  2. Megan says:

    I feel so bad for Melissa. I cannot image what it would be like to read that total carelessness killed your mother.

    • bella says:

      me too.
      it must be such a heavy burden trying to process the abundance of errors that led to her mom’s death while dealing with such a tremendous loss.
      my heart goes out to melissa and her son.
      who’d ever think such medical negligence could happen to someone of joan’s status?
      i guess arrogance and self importance is rampant in medicine.
      i thought it only happened with the disgrace of doctors i’ve been exposed to.

    • Bread and Circuses says:

      Total hubris, rather than carelessness.

      Performing an operation without permission? Performing it in a clinic where you have no right to even touch a patient? Skipping over basic steps that would protect the life of the patient?

      All of it smacks of arrogance, not incompetence. Someone figured they could do no wrong in this world and killed a woman as a result.

  3. whipmyhair says:

    It makes me feel sick to my stomach to read about all the blunders that happened to Joan.

  4. paola says:

    If I was Melissa and with that I mean if I had her money and resourses I would sue the shit out of them. I would want them to spend all their money down to their last dime to defende themselves in court. I am usually not a vindictive person but if that happened to me i couldn’t bare the though of my mum being in pics while under surgery ending up dead because of lack of profesionalism from the clinic’s side. We’re only humans but this could have easily been avoided. I don’t know if any of these people actually said at least sorry to Melissa..but I really hope they’ll have to beg for money on the street in order to survive. They don’t deserve a job or a normal life anymore.

  5. Milena says:

    That is appalling (re: the selfie).

    Also, if Rivers didn’t sign the consent form for the laryngoscopy, wth was her physician doing performing one? Was it an emergency situation, or just the doctor’s whim? If her personal doc didn’t even have medical privileges at the clinic, did he/she just attend the procedure and decide to jump in? So much crazy in this story.

    I feel really bad for Joan and her family – the VIP treatment totally hurt her in the end, like Michael Jackson.

    • Christin says:

      I don’t understand why the other doctor allegedly accompanied Joan to the clinic, either. That seems odd, but maybe not for the rich and famous.

    • polkasox says:

      She had consented to the endoscopy, but not a biopsy of her vocal chords. To me (an ICU RN with 8 yrs experience) this is kind of a “grey” area – if you were already under, and your physician saw something suspicious on your vocal chords, you would probably want it biopsied. BUT this physician didn’t have privileges at the facility, so who knows if she was even properly trained to be taking biopsies. (cutting the vocal chord tissue can cause vasospasms, which could close off your airway. Sounds like this might have happened. Someone trained well would know this) Sad situation.

  6. Lindy79 says:

    Urgh. God this is just so horrible.
    Taking selfies with her while she was unconscious, god it just doesnt bear thinking about. Who knows how many others they have done that and worse to while they were under.

  7. Melissamanifesto says:

    I wonder where this uncontrollable desire/need to take selfies and overshare everything will take us. This was a gross invasion of privacy and I’m sure I could find more legal issues to add on top of it.

    Death itself is heartbreaking but to think it was so preventable must be horrifying to her family.

  8. lower-case deb says:

    how important is it to take a selfie in an operating room with an op in progress?
    how skewed are one’s priorities to even think that it’s something to be done?

    and a cellphone in an op room? i thought that’s a no-no. i remember keeping my granduncle company in icu, and absolutely no cellphone allowed (even if it’s switches off). they even had a small room outside of the icu where we could deposit our phone. if it’s switched on and we let the staff answer it, if it’s important then we’ll be paged.
    so… anyway.

    • Candy Love says:

      Your right when my grandma was in the ICU my mom was not allowed to bring her cell phone and she would go to her to car to Get it when she had to a call.

      Not just that but could the doctor not take the picture when they meet or wait till after when Joan was ready to go home.

    • Betty says:

      The docs do have phones because my surgeon took photos of the fibroid tumors (sorry if TMI) he removed from me during surgery. At my post-op visit, he showed me the pics on his cell phone.

  9. Esmom says:

    So heartbreaking and appalling. But hopefully this case will be a wake-up call so that others aren’t subjected to the same horror.

  10. Jess says:

    What a sad and outrageous situation. This didn’t have to happen and Joan was still so full of life. I hope Melissa sues everyone, there’s no excuse for any of it. As a medical professional I’m shocked the selfie report was true, I would never even think of doing something like that and if I saw someone try I would stop it immediately, this obsession with ourselves and documenting every freaking moment has to stop! Poor Joan, I hope she didn’t suffer.

  11. Frida_K says:

    Melissa must be just livid. I am livid and this isn’t even my own mom. I don’t write fan letters or letters to famous people, but I honestly have the urge to try and find where to write to Melissa so that I can send her a card saying how sorry I am, and how much her mother will be missed, and that I hope that the support of the public brings some peace to her and to Melissa’s son. Not that one letter really matters, but I feel so pained for her, my God.

    I would be in hysterics over this. And once I picked myself up off the floor, oh, those doctors and that clinic had better get ready to be sued to the ground and have all their licenses revoked.

  12. Triple Cardinal says:

    Joan’s surgery will, no doubt, be written up in both medical and legal textbooks. This is the perfect example of how medical personnel are not to conduct themselves.

    Consent forms, when properly written, warn of the possibility of injury, poor outcomes, and death. I really hope those who were negligent are not allowed to hide behind the consent forms Joan signed.

  13. Anniefannie says:

    It’s chilling to think this could happen to someone you know thought they were getting top- notch medical attention. Tort reform has been a platform the GOP has been pushing since the early 90′s and this is a perfect example of why we need to be able to civilly pursue for patients rights!!!

  14. Kim1 says:

    Awards Season kicking off without Joan around to insult the stars.
    RIP Joan

  15. Snarky says:

    Is anyone else selfishly terrified by this? If this kind of flagrant ineptitude and malpractice can happen to a legend, what chance so the rest of us have with Dr. Havefunandplaygod types?

    • bella says:

      this happening to someone of joan’s status puts into perspective the a**holes i’ve encountered over recent months from medical assistants right down to the doctors themselves.
      i’ve avoided the doctor for years and had no choice but to go recently and the experience has been so upsetting and the medical care disgraceful.
      godlike egos, incompetence, rudeness….you name it.
      to learn that such blatant malpractice and disregard for a VIP like joan happens makes me realize that i’ve been fortunate.
      it’s disgusting what happened to her. just awful.

      • Betty says:

        I’ve had my share of bad experiences with medical professionals, so much so that my blood pressure is usually high at the doctor’s office but completely normal at home. That said, there are a couple of docs I’ve encountered who I really like. Do I trust them 100 percent? No. But I trust them enough that I feel fond of them and truly believe they care. As I was going under during my last surgery, the doctor asked if I was okay and when I nervously said I was, he held my hand and smiled to comfort me. That said, I always ask my doctors a lot of questions and show that I’m as educated as possible about my treatment. My doc even joked that he has to be careful what he says to me because I’m so well-read about my issues. Patients need not be afraid to educae themselves and self-advocate. I’ve met too many people who don’t seem to care what their diagnosis is and how it’s going to be treated.

  16. FingerBinger says:

    This is truly terrifying. The people at this clinic did everything wrong. That they didn’t even bother to weigh her or I’m assuming even ask how much she weighed ,knowing that is this standard procedure for administering anesthesia is outrageous. To say this is malpractice would be an understatement.

  17. Steph says:

    So sad and gone too soon. Joan had more life and drive than most thirty year olds. I am not into suing people but in this case I hope Melissa sues them for everything!!

  18. Rihanna says:

    I’m glad she lived a full and long life before she passed away painlessly.

    • Falkor says:

      She had a long life, but didn’t have a full life. She was a senior, but she was a vivacious and healthy senior with years ahead. She and her family were absolutely robbed.

  19. Falkor says:

    The flagrant disregard for human life that is becoming increasingly common in the medical field is absolutely infuriating. If you can’t commit to the oath and do everything in your power to do no harm, go cut grass for a living, not people.

  20. Zooyork says:

    So sad. I absolutely loved Joan, esp on Celebrity Apprentice. Learning what was done to her almost makes my stomach turn.

  21. smcollins says:

    There are no words. Horrible. Just horrible.

  22. kri says:

    Oh my god. They played with an unconscious patient, didn’t weigh her before sedating her, and did not monitor her vital signs. This patient was one of the most famous people in the world. What did they with patients who were not famous? I would hate to see their track record. Take them OUT, Melissa.

  23. aquarius64 says:

    Two words: Conrad Murray.

    To all health care professionals: if you goof around with a patient that is famous and influential, thus causing injury or death, you can kiss your medical license and your freedom goodbye.

  24. YummyMummy says:

    Where were the nurses? As an icu RN who gives propofol I just don’t understand. You have to watch vital signs constantly and have resuscitation equipment available. What kind of clinic doesn’t have nurses??

  25. Susannah says:

    Joan Rivers’ ENT physician has been the top doctor in New York City for the voices of Metropolitan Opera and Broadway musicals. I know one of her clients who defends her stoutly, but these gaffes may bring her career down with a crash. Too much ego, too much carelessness. Tragic for Joan and equally sad for those left behind.

  26. Trashaddict says:

    So I am curious about this selfie. Did the idiot who took it, send it out before the procedure was over? Because once everything went all to hell, if they hadn’t sent it out, they surely would have deleted it? Not everyone in medicine plays this fast and loose with the rules. But oh boy, this group really blew it.

  27. Krw says:

    Yep, this is what I was taking about. I had the chance to meet this sharp, charming and witty woman a few months before her death.
    Everyone wanted to have a photo with her, selfies etc.
    It’s pretty disgusting that people want nothing else but a photo with a famous person. They don’t care at all, they must get that photo and post it to some crappy social page so they can show off. As if??? Everyone knows they’re not friends with her.. So what’s the point!? Go to Madame Tussaud !!!

    It’s gross and sick!!!! I felt really bad for her, she’s old but she was really trying… Rip Joan Rivers and may God give strength to her beloved daughter…. So sad soooooo sad !!!!

    On a different ironic side note…. The doctor at yorkville who was resigned… My neighbor for 5 years!!! He is a nice guy and smart, I don’t know what went wrong ??

  28. wooley says:

    One of the worst parts is that she was literally dying on the table and they didn’t notice or weren’t monitoring her properly to notice. If that was my family member, that’s the aspect that would haunt me the most.

  29. Michele says:

    Selfies while someone, ANYONE, is under — is inexcusable. Period. Sue the crap out of them Melissa!