Joan Rivers could joke about anything but there’s clearly nothing funny about her current health tragedy. The only thing worse than witnessing someone on life support is suspecting they were put there unnecessarily due to medical negligence. We’ve been hoping that wasn’t the case with Joan - but then we saw this news item. Writes TMZ (say what you will about TMZ but they can be pretty accurate):
Sources tell us the state's Dept. of Health has contacted the clinic -- Yorkville Endoscopy -- twice since last Thursday ... when Rivers was getting an outpatient procedure to repair her vocal cords.
State health officials tell TMZ they are "reviewing the matter" ... but have NOT launched an official investigation. We're told the review could take weeks or even months. At this point, officials are only looking at the clinic as a whole -- not specifically the doctor who performed the procedure.
We don’t know if negligence caused Joan’s predicament. But keep in mind two things. First, someone’s celebrity status does not immunize them from being victimized by medical malpractice. Remember Julie Andrews, who singing voice was destroyed from botched throat surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital (ironically the very hospital to which Joan Rivers was taken)? Or actor John Ritter, whose family settled with Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, for failing to properly treat his heart condition, leading to his death? And of course, there’s Michael Jackson, whose physician basically killed him.
Second, too many bad things are happening in New York doctors’ offices and clinics. Writes Crains,
During this year's legislative session, state lawmakers failed to act on changes to regulations for office-based surgery recommended by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council. But data released by the state Department of Health this month is certain to catch Albany's attention.
Between 2010 and 2013, of 2,202 adverse events reported by just under 1,000 accredited OBS practices in the state, 257 of those events resulted in death. In other words, in 12% of the reportable adverse events a patient died.
PHHPC members were surprised at the preliminary data, online here. Vice chair Jeff Kraut noted that any hospital showing 257 deaths would have a SWAT-team response.
New York State has a ton of doctors – more per capita than almost anywhere in the nation and growing at a rate far in excess of the state’s population growth. Clearly, there’s no shortage of doctors in New York City. But the question is, can they be trusted with our care?
Unfortunately, the OBS report caught little attention upon release last month. Perhaps now, it will.
Update: RIP Joan. We will miss you.