Yesterday in a Manhattan court, Melissa Rivers filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic and doctors who were operating on her mother, Joan, when she unexpectedly slipped into a coma and died. According to the suit, which you can read in full below, Rivers' death was caused by an unauthorized biopsy performed by negligent and inattentive doctors who should have been able to revive her.
Rivers died last September, a week after a routine procedure to examine her vocal cords went wrong. According to the suit, Rivers' doctors used an endoscope—a small tube with a camera in it—to see if they could find out why the comedian's voice had been changing, but after that they performed an unauthorized biopsy that ultimately led to her death.
Via the New York Daily News:
The doctors did those procedures but they also did an unauthorized biopsy on her vocal chords that resulted in a laryngospasm examination of her vocal chords and windpipe that resulted in a laryngospasm, the suit said.
With the spasm, her throat seized up and deprived her brain of oxygen. She also couldn't expel carbon dioxide from her lungs and the result was a heart attack and irreversible brain damage, the lawsuit alleged.
The suit alleges even grosser incompetence on the part of the staff:
During the procedures, doctors ignored the concerns of the acting anesthesiologist, who urged caution after noticing "incredible edema," or swelling, in Rivers' throat.
Anesthesiologist Renuka Bankulla suggested taking an internal picture to gauge how bad the swelling was, the suit said.
"You're being paranoid ... You're such a curious cat. You always need to see everything," the lead doctor, Lawrence B. Cohen, told her, before proceeding over her objections, the suit said.
Bankulla is personally named in the suit, according to the Daily News, along with fellow anesthesiologists Robert Koniuta and Suzanne Scarola, as well as Rivers' personal physician Gail Korovin. The suit also names as defendants Yorkville Endoscopy, the clinic where the procedure took place, and Frontier Healthcare, a firm that has a partial ownership stake in the clinic.
The suit further argues that Rivers' life could have been saved had the doctors taken the proper steps in attempting to revive her:
Instead of stopping the laryngoscopy midway to stabilize her when her vital signs showed signs of distress, the doctors continued with the procedure and she went into cardiac arrest.
The complaint alleges that for 20 minutes while doctors tried to revive her, nobody performed a tracheotomy to open up her airways
If what the suit alleges is true, Rivers' death is rendered even sadder by the fact it seemed so eminently preventable.
[image via Getty]