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Wrongful death claims filed after Joan Rivers' death have settled

Joan Rivers more than likely had no idea that when she walked in for what should have been a "routine" procedure that she would never walk out of the facility. In the aftermath of the comedian's death, her daughter, Melissa Rivers, filed a wrongful death claim against several parties believed to be responsible for her mother's death. Illinois residents might not have heard yet that the parties recently came to an agreement that will end that litigation.

Instead of performing the scheduled endoscopic procedure, another doctor was allowed into the room after the comedian was given anesthesia. The anesthesiologist mentioned that it might not be appropriate for the second doctor to perform a procedure without authorization, but did nothing else to stop it. The second doctor performed his procedure before the other procedure began. The doctors also took several photos of themselves with Rivers while she was unconscious.

No one seemed to notice that Rivers' blood pressure, heart rate and oxygenation levels were all falling dangerously low. At some point, she went into cardiac arrest. Even though they began efforts to revive her, it took approximately 10 minutes before they realized that her airway was blocked. A procedure could have saved her life, but the doctor who could have performed it had already left the room. Tragically, Rivers died.

Like many Illinois patients who die due to medical mistakes, her death was preventable. If an Illinois family loses a loved one in this manner, surviving family members retain the right to file a wrongful death claim against all of the parties believed to be responsible, just as Melissa Rivers did. If the court determines that the care received was below accepted medical standards, an award of damages might be made if the parties do not settle the matter prior thereto.

Source: ABC News, "Melissa Rivers Settles Medical Malpractice Suit With Joan Rivers' Medical Clinic", Aaron Katersky and Lesley Messer, May 12, 2016

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A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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