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Will medical malpractice case be filed in Joan Rivers' death?

Most everyone in New Jersey has heard of the passing of Joan Rivers.  However, not everyone may know that a controversy is brewing around her death.  A medical malpractice claim may be the result of the questions currently being asked about what happened during the throat procedure she was undergoing when she went into cardiac arrest.

The first question people are asking is whether the doctor had Rivers' permission to take a "selfie" with her while she was under anesthesia.  Not only was this an apparent invasion of privacy, but it could also speak to whether the doctor was providing Rivers with an acceptable standard of care.  Sources say it is unlikely the comedian would have consented to such a photograph had she been conscious.

The second question has to do with a biopsy that was not planned as part of the procedure.  Rivers may not have consented to a biopsy before undergoing the endoscopy.  Further, it appears that the physician who performed the unplanned procedure was not qualified to do so.  The final question is whether the doctor was negligent.  This will require the input of other medical professionals to asess whether the doctor's actions that day demonstrated reasonable care.

Many would argue that taking a selfie with a patient -- especially an unconscious one -- is inappropriate absent express permission. A medical malpractice claim could allege that it showed indifference to the care of the patient.  Many New Jersey patients who become the victim of a physician's seeming indifference may not have this kind of evidence pointing to a violation of the doctor's duty of care, but every potential malpractice claim deserves a careful review and assessment in order to determine what legal steps may be appropriate to the circumstances.

Source: Fox News, "Joan Rivers investigation: It's the 'selfie,' stupid!", Gregg Jarrett, Sept. 18, 2014

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