Joan Rivers has been an American icon for many decades. This is why so many people in Hawaii were shocked to hear of her sudden death. The celebrity died after undergoing what was supposed to be a routine procedure. However, instead River’s death may now lead to a potential medical malpractice lawsuit.
One of the most shocking aspects of this case is that just seconds before operating on the patient, her doctor apparently took a picture of himself with his cell phone. Rivers was unconscious in the background. Many legal observers believe that the estate of the late comedian has a cause of action against the physician for — in the least — an invasion of privacy. The late celebrity was widely-known to be obsessed and self-conscious of her appearance, which makes it doubtful that she had consented to having her picture taken.
The original procedure was planned to be an endoscopy, which is a visual examination of her throat with a scope device. However, the doctor went beyond just the examination and performed a biopsy, removing some tissue. Whether the patient had given consent to perform a biopsy may be one factor in assessing whether a claim for medical malpractice may be appropriate. Reports indicate that the doctor was not even authorized to perform this procedure at this particular medical facility, which likely means the victim could not have given an informed consent.
In addition to the privacy and consent issues, a third legal question in this case deals with whether the doctor failed in exercising the level of care which would be reasonably expected from a competent physician. Many in Hawaii will be watching to see if a medical malpractice lawsuit is initiated and, if so, against whom and on what grounds. If the Rivers estate is successful, her family may be entitled to a monetary judgment for the damages sustained.
Source: Fox News, “Joan Rivers investigation: It’s the ‘selfie,’ stupid!“, Gregg Jarrett, Sept. 18, 2014