Joan Rivers died on September 4, 2014 after going into cardiac arrest during an elective medical procedure. It is suspected that Rivers was given an incorrect dose of anesthesia, which caused her to stop breathing during an endoscopy and sent her into a coma before she passed away. An investigation is currently underway to determine exactly what went wrong and whether some form of medical malpractice contributed to her death.
In addition to questions being raised about the use of Propofol as an anesthetic during the procedure, a more thorough examination is being conducted into how outpatient facilities are regulated and whether everything necessary is being done to ensure the safety of patients. It is suspected that Rivers was given an overdose of anesthesia, which caused her to stop breathing during an endoscopy and sent her into a coma before she passed away.
Propofol a Common Denominator
Joan Rivers would not be the only celebrity to die after being administered a dose of Propofol, which happens to be the same drug that Michael Jackson received prior to his death in 2009. Like Rivers, Michael Jackson stopped breathing after being administered the drug in much the same way she experienced prior to entering a coma. Medical staff was able to resuscitate her initially, but she remained unconscious until the time of her death. The link between the two deaths is reason to demand a deeper investigation into the use of the drug and whether it may be responsible for additional complications or deaths.
Questions about Outpatient Regulations
Joan Rivers underwent the procedure at Yorkville Endoscopy, an outpatient facility which may be accredited and regulated through different agencies than most hospitals. Some outpatient facilities are extensions of hospitals and must adhere to the same regulations that their parents are subject to but others are privately owned and staffed. These facilities may receive accreditation from one of several agencies. The lack of a singular entity to oversee the regulations of outpatient facilities may make it more difficult to prevent cases of medical malpractice, negligence or poor judgment on the part of physicians.
Diligence Required Even for Elective Procedures
Many people are under the impression that elective procedures do not come with substantial risks and many patients are never informed of the many of the risks that they may face. Any procedure that requires the use of anesthesia presents the risk of complications either due to a reaction to the anesthesia drugs, a drug overdose or complications that arise during the procedure itself. Facilities and physicians need to be held to task whenever they fail to communicate these risks properly and a greater level of care must be taken to ensure that a plan is in place in the event that complications arise that require the use of emergency care.
As investigators continue to search for answers surrounding the death of Joan Rivers, it is important that we also examine the manner in which we regulate the medical industry and hold facilities responsible for negligent acts. In doing so, we may be able to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.