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Death of Joan Rivers: Doctors take responsibility

Anyone who loses a loved one after a routine medical procedure may have questions about what went wrong. Sometimes, there was no way that a doctor could know that the patient would struggle with anesthesia or other conditions during surgery. However, in many cases, mistakes that are made can lead to life-threatening conditions or even the death of a patient under the medical team's care.

Families of those who have passed away have a right to file a wrongful death or medical malpractice claim against the hospital or medical team responsible. This can help them get the answers they need as well as the compensation to cover their losses.

If you're familiar with the comedian Joan Rivers, then you may have heard about her death in 2014; her case has now been resolved, and a settlement reached. She went into cardiac arrest during a routine procedure; she was scheduled to have a laryngoscopy and endoscopy. During the procedure, it's claimed that the main anesthesiologist warned doctors that the patient's vocal cords were very swollen and could seize. However, she was told she was being paranoid.

The main anesthesiologist took detailed notes on the procedure to make sure she could identify what was going wrong in the case of the woman's death and pass that information on to her family for the case. When Ms. Rivers stopped breathing, the anesthesiologist knew she was having a laryngospasm or airway obstruction. However, she didn't demand a crash cart; instead, she looked for the surgeon who could perform an emergency cricothyrotomy, but he had already left the clinic. Ms. Rivers passed away several days later after suffering a cardiac arrest due to the error.

Source: The New York Times, "Settlement Reached in Joan Rivers Malpractice Case," Marc Santora, May 12, 2016

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