Melissa Rivers sues over Joan Rivers' death

Joan Rivers' death came after negligent care, Melissa Rivers says in a lawsuit against clinic, doctors

Melissa Rivers is suing the clinic where her mother, Joan Rivers, had an outpatient procedure that resulted in her death a week later. 

"Filing this lawsuit was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make," Melissa Rivers, 47, said Monday in a statement. "What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, [my son] Cooper and I have been through."

The suit seeking unspecified damages was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court against New York City's Yorkville Endoscopy, three anesthesiologists and two other doctors, including Joan Rivers' personal physician, Dr. Gwen Korovin -- that according to the New York Daily News, which obtained the court documents. 

The suit notes that in addition to an authorized endoscopy and esophageal exam, an unauthorized vocal-cord biopsy was performed. It says it was the unauthorized procedure that caused the laryngospasm -- when the vocal cords seize up -- that blocked Rivers' airway and cut off oxygen to her brain, according to the Associated Press.

The suit alleges that Korovin performed two procedures on the 81-year-old despite not being authorized to do so at the clinic and charges that in the 20 minutes doctors worked to resuscitate the comic after her vital signs crashed, nobody performed a tracheotomy to open her airway, the Daily News said.

Dr. Lawrence Cohen, the lead doctor and former director of the clinic, took a selfie with an anesthetized Rivers and with Korovin before things went awry, the lawsuit alleges. The Daily News reported that, according to the suit, Cohen brushed off one of the anesthesiologists' concerns about swelling in Rivers' throat.

The suit alleges Korovin left the room during the emergency "to avoid getting caught" where she wasn't authorized to practice, TMZ reported.

"The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible," Melissa Rivers said in her statement.

"Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better. It is my goal to make sure that this kind of horrific medical treatment never happens to anyone again."

Yorkville Endoscopy had no statement specific to the lawsuit, the Associated Press reported, but said in a statement that "the Rivers family has, as it has always had, our deepest sympathies and condolences."

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