Entertainment & Arts

Joan Rivers' daughter sues clinic over death

Melissa and Joan Rivers Image copyright AP
Image caption Rivers, pictured with her daughter Melissa, died aged 81

Joan Rivers' daughter has filed a malpractice claim against the New York medical clinic that treated her mother days before she died.

Rivers suffered a cardiac arrest while undergoing a procedure to examine her throat at the Yorkville Endoscopy centre in August 2014.

The legal claim alleges doctors were not adequately trained and performed unauthorised procedures on the star.

Rivers' family is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

In November, state health investigators said the clinic failed to follow standard protocols while treating Rivers, who died a week later.

The Department of Health cited multiple errors, including failing to detect the comedian's deteriorating vital signs during the procedure, but negligence was not suspected.

The New York medical examiner's office ruled Rivers died of brain damage due to lack of oxygen during the procedure.

The death was classified as a "therapeutic complication", meaning it was a known risk.

'Outrageous behaviour'

However Melissa Rivers claims doctors mishandled the endoscopy and performed another procedure - carried out by specialist Gwen Korovin who was not cleared to work at the clinic - without consent.

During the second procedure, gastroenterologist Dr Lawrence Cohen and Ms Korovin took pictures on their mobile phones of themselves with the sedated comedian. Ms Korovin later said she thought Rivers would have wanted to see the images. Dr Cohen has since resigned.

The legal claim alleges staff were not properly trained to detect Rivers' deteriorating vital signs or deal with the type of emergency airway obstruction she suffered before going into cardiac arrest.

It also claims Ms Korovin left the room at this point because she knew she was not permitted to be there and "wanted to avoid getting caught".

Melissa Rivers said filing the lawsuit was one of the most difficult decisions she had to make.

"What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, Cooper and I have been through," she said, referring to her son.

"The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behaviour is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible."

The Yorkville Endoscopy centre said it was not appropriate to comment on the legal action.

"The Rivers family has, as it has always had, our deepest sympathies and condolences," it said.

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