Famed comedian, Joan Rivers died on Sept. 4 at age 81. Born Joan Alexandria Molinksy, the famed talk show host stopped breathing during a minor surgery on her throat She was well-known for her dynamic persona and often wild sense of humor. While the world is quite aware of the television star’s passing, the circumstances surrounding her sudden death still remain cloudy in the public eye.
The New York State Department of Health is actively investigating the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic, the institution where the surgical procedure on Rivers was performed. During the procedure on Aug. 28 she went into cardiac arrest. However, new details have come to light that have provided Melissa Rivers, the comedian’s daughter, with controversial evidence pointing in the direction of possible negligence. According to various reports, an unidentified staff member at the Yorkville clinic saw the female ear-nose-throat physician (ENT) take a selfie while in the midst of her surgery. The staff member alleges to have witnessed the ENT snap the photo in the clinic’s procedure room.
The incident reportedly took place while Rivers was under anesthesia. According to reports, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, a gastroenterologist, performed a scheduled endoscopy first, but allegedly brought in the unidentified, personal ENT physician of Rivers. The ENT then performed an unauthorized biopsy on the comedian’s vocal cords. The clinic has found no signed consent form for the biopsy. Further compounding the lack of consent is the apparent fact that Rivers’ ENT did not go through the proper protocol to operate on her at the upper east side clinic.
Despite being a licensed physician, both state and federal laws require medical practitioners to obtain a medical certification clearance from the institution where they intend to practice before operating. Instead, Dr. Cohen told the hospital that the ENT was just a spectator for the procedure and would not be involved in the operation. Cohen has recently stepped down as the medical director at Yorkville Endoscopy and is no longer working for the clinic in any capacity. It is believed that medical personnel mistook Rivers’ ENT for her make-up artist.
In what was expected to be a routine scheduled procedure, Rivers sought to find out what was wrong with her vocal cords. Over the weeks leading up to her operation, the comedic television host complained of hoarseness and throat pain. According to hospital staff, Dr. Cohen sought to determine if a gastric issue was the cause of the problem by conducting the endoscopy. Acid reflux and other stomach complications often cause throat pain. However, Dr. Cohen also helped orchestrate the unauthorized biopsy by Rivers’ ear-nose-throat doctor.
Yorkville Endoscopy representatives claim that the biopsy did not cause the death of the Fashion Police star, but with the news of the alleged selfie taken by Joan Rivers’ physician in mid-surgery, there appears to be a lot more to this story that has yet to unravel. While Dr. Cohen has taken the brunt of social and media heat, he has not been formally accused of any crimes. At the moment he has served mainly as a scapegoat for the celebrity’s controversial death.
After Rivers stopped breathing she was brought to the intensive care unit at nearby Mount Sinai hospital. The sharp-tongued diva was placed in a medically induced coma and subsequently placed on life support. A week later she was unable to be revived and ultimately died. Now Melissa Rivers is reportedly ready or sue Dr.Cohen, the ENT and Yorkville Endoscopy. The daughter of the female pioneer comedienne believes that the doctors are the reason for her mother’s death.
While no definitive cause has been publicly revealed as the determining factor in Rivers’ death, the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic is citing patient confidentiality as they safeguard information. The law prohibits the release of sensitive and personal medical records to the public. Propofol, a drug often used for simple medical procedures such as endoscopies, was reportedly used on Rivers. The drug can be used as a sedative, for anesthesia and other purposes, but may cause complications with breathing and or swelling of the vocal cords.
Propofol became known to the mainstream public when it was exposed as one of the many drugs administered in the death of singer, Michael Jackson. There is no proof at this time that the doctors involved in Rivers’ surgical procedures ultimately caused her death. Nonetheless, in the midst of an ongoing investigation a bright light will likely continue to shine on the unknown selfie-posting physician and Dr.Cohen, who oversaw the surgeries.
By Brandon Wright