On Sept. 4, comedian Joan Rivers passed away from complications during a minor, voluntary throat surgery. The entire entertainment world grieves the loss of such a vocal, spitfire comedian.
According to CNN reporter Jen Christensen, Rivers, 81, went into cardiac and respiratory arrest during a routine procedure at the Yorkville Endoscopy center. She went into a coma and died days later at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Rivers was a comedy icon, known for her witty, inappropriate humor. I watched the Entertainment channel only to enjoy her antics on Fashion Police. I remember spraying my beverage over my living room couch after Rivers claimed that Kim Kardashian’s baby, North West, was “desperately in need of a waxing.”
These kinds of controversial statements were what Rivers was known for. The controversy that defined her life has also surrounded her death. After Ms. Rivers passed away, the state health department began investigating possible malpractice by doctors of staff and even the Yorkville Endoscopy center itself.
It’s as if someone must be put to blame for the A-lister’s death. Understandably, the nature of Rivers’ death may raise questions about the competency of the medical staff taking care of the comedian; however, I don’t believe that merits an official investigation.
Doctors and nurses take oaths in order to obtain licenses to practice medicine. Rivers, though a beloved member of the entertainment community, was 81 years old. She consented to a voluntary medical procedure, meaning she was informed of all possible complications that could occur. All doctors must ask patients specific questions before any kind of surgery or procedure.
This situation is a manifestation of an entire emerging culture based on blame. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conducted a survey between 2009 and 2011, which found that 77.3 percent of OB-GYN respondents have had at least one claim filed against them during their professional careers. One of the leading reasons for a lawsuit was a “neurologically impaired infant.” Though tragic, doctors cannot be blamed for mental disorders in children. Too many biological variables are involved and no doctor or midwife purposely delivers a baby incorrectly.
The National Practitioner Data Bank reported $3.6 billion total medical malpractice payouts in 2012, meaning that a payout theoretically occurred every 43 minutes—and those are just the winning cases. The problem with medical lawsuits is that victims sue against unavoidable human error. Despite years of school and training, medical professionals are still humans, prone to the same imperfections as everyone else.
Granted, a small number of medical professionals out there aren’t as good at their job as others in the same field. Luckily, the public has the ability to research their doctors and choose whom to see. People must also take into account that medical treatment has risk involved. Over-the-counter drugs list a series of potential side effects, and when one agrees to participate in any medical procedure or treatment, he or she consents to possible complications. Blaming the medical staff for freak accidents in care is anything but productive.
Joan Rivers will be greatly missed, and her legacy in comedy will hopefully live on for many years to come. I hope that the general public chooses to focus more on Rivers’ boisterous life, rather than bogus questions about the competency of her medical care.