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Daughter of deceased comedienne files medical malpractice suit

New Mexico comedy fans may be interested to learn that Melissa Rivers, daughter of deceased comedienne Joan Rivers, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 26 against the clinic that was accused of causing the comedienne's death. Rivers, aged 81, died Sept. 4 after going to an outpatient clinic to have a throat procedure performed.

In the complaint, Melissa Rivers claimed that the doctors were more interested in taking cellphone pictures instead of taking care of their unconscious patient. As such, they allegedly failed to recognize when their patient was no longer getting the oxygen she needed. Additionally, the complaint stated that the doctors performed a laryngoscopy without consent from Rivers. The doctors who performed this surgery allegedly left the operating room after performing the procedure in order to avoid getting caught. The comedienne's death was ultimately ruled as a therapeutic complication though the city's medical examiner reported that she died of brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen reaching her brain during the procedure.

Following the death, a federal investigation was begun into the clinic's practices. Investigators also determined that staff members made numerous medical mistakes, including failure to obtain consent for certain procedures and failing to record the comedienne's weight before administering the sedation medication. The clinic reportedly has until March 2 to make changes or its accreditation would be revoked.

Before a New Mexico doctor can begin a procedure on a patient, they must obtain consent from the patient and reduce the risks of any potential injuries that could occur. This includes properly monitoring the patient during the length of the procedure. If they fail to do this and a patient suffers an injury, they may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the staff members who performed the surgery and the clinic or hospital where the surgery was performed.

Source: USA Today, "Malpractice suit filed over Joan Rivers' death," Maria Puente, Jan. 27, 2015

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