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Coroner Renders Opinion

The New York City medical examiner has concluded that popular comedian and TV celebrity Joan Rivers died as a result of a “therapeutic complication.” Rivers was undergoing a procedure to evaluate her voice when she experienced breathing trouble, resulting in a critical lack of oxygen.  She was placed in a medically induced coma but ultimately died last month at the age of 81.

Powerful Drug Propofol May Have Contributed

Citing privacy laws, Yorkville Endoscopy has refused to discuss Rivers’ treatment in detail.  The medical examiner, however, indicated that she was sedated with propofol, an anesthetic drug that slows brain function and affects breathing.  The drug is widely used but is irreversible and requires constant vigilance to avoid major complications.

If propofol sounds familiar, it’s because the drug played a prominent role in the 2009 death of pop icon Michael Jackson and was a major subject in the subsequent trial.  Jackson’s personal doctor, Conrad Murray, allegedly used the medication to help Jackson get to sleep when other alternatives didn’t work. In that case, critics decried the use of propofol outside of the close monitoring of an intensive care hospital unit.


  1. Gravatar for jc

    Oh, boy! The plaintiff's are probably all over this one, dreaming of million dollar pay days. Have you called up Joan Rivers family yet, Dave?

  2. Gravatar for Steve Lombardi

    The person who left the comment "JC" is probably a tort-reformer who is being paid by the tobacco or Big Pharma to leave disparaging comments that add nothing to the discussion. Why won't these people use their actual names? Why won't they sign a personal pledge to not sue if it is them who ends up brain dead as a result of anesthesia error? Why do they go after lawyers for the mistakes of other professionals? Next JC will be blaming doctors for cancer.

  3. Gravatar for jc

    Steve--I am a practicing doctor and a strong believer in tort reform! Thru personal experience I have come to see the medical malpractice system as a scam, whose sole purpose is to benefit lawyers. In Ohio, in 2012, 2,773 medical malpractice cases were filed and 80% were closed with no payment to the patient. Of the cases that went to trial, and were decided by a judge or jury, 92.3% were won by the defendant doctor. Steve, name another industry in the U.S.A. which has an 80-92.3% failure rate. Would you fly on an airline which had a history of crashing 80% of the time? Dave want to talk about Joan Rivers. Well that case is truly the exception. The rule is the time I got sued because my name was on the chart of a patient who died of a hopeless disease. Or the time I got sued for six years due to a clerical error which had no effect on the patient's condition. I am convinced that, if a patient has a bad result, and goes to a malpractice attorney, that attorney will file a malpractice case regardless of the facts of the case. Finally, there is no malpractice "internship" even though med mal is the legal equivalent of neurosurgery. All you have to do is pass the bar and sue a doc. Imagine if I showed up at a hospital the day after my internship and said "I want to do brain surgery". No hospital would let me do it! Yet it is perfectly alright for an inexperienced bozo plaintiff attorney to sue me for malpractice right after he finishes law school, so he can learn off the case! You cannot imagine the gross legal mistakes I routinely see from these bozos. We need a system that serves both the doctor's and patient's best interests---we need medical courts.

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