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Joan Rivers' Family Emphasizes Patient Safety in Lawsuit

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Joan Rivers, a famous comedienne, died after an outpatient surgical procedure on her throat, and later her daughter, Melissa Rivers, filed a malpractice lawsuit claiming that her mother's wrongful death resulted from mistakes committed by the surgical team. The litigation resulted in a settlement that reportedly added up to millions of dollars. Lawyers for the family stated that the lawsuit's main purpose had been to place a spotlight on safety problems at outpatient surgery centers and push medical providers to improve their conduct.

The lawsuit alleged that members of the surgical team lacked professionalism. According to media reports, surgeons snapped a selfie with the comedian and performed unauthorized medical procedures. Allegedly, the anesthesiologist said that she was called paranoid when she expressed concern about Rivers' vital signs.

The 81-year-old Rivers eventually lost respiratory function during the surgery. A lack of oxygen damaged her brain and led to her death. When Rivers' family accepted a settlement for the wrongful death, the daughter expressed that her hope had been to spare other families the untimely loss of a loved one.

When someone dies in a medical setting and the surviving family suspects that medical malpractice occurred, a survivor could discuss the incident with an attorney. The medical records could be examined by the attorney with the aid of an independent medical expert. If evidence of negligent conduct emerges, then an attorney might prepare a lawsuit to recover damages such as medical costs and burial expenses. Sometimes, punitive damages might be assigned by a court or agreed to during negotiations.