Source: Joan Rivers’ doctor took selfie, began biopsy before her cardiac arrest

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(CNN) — The cardiac arrest leading to Joan Rivers’ death happened as the comedian’s personal doctor began performing a biopsy on her vocal cords, a source close to the death investigation told CNN.

A staff member at Manhattan’s Yorkville Endoscopy clinic told investigators that the doctor, who has not been publicly identified, took a selfie photo in the procedure room while Rivers was under anesthesia, the source said.

Rivers, 81, was at the clinic for a scheduled endoscopy by another doctor, gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence Cohen. That procedure, intended to help diagnose her hoarse voice and sore throat, involved the insertion of a camera down her throat.

After Cohen, the clinic’s medical director, finished his work, a biopsy was done on Rivers without her prior consent, according to the source.

An ear, nose and throat specialist not certified by the clinic as required by law performed a biopsy on her vocal cords. The doctor is described by the source as Rivers’ personal ear-nose-throat physician.

Clinic: Vocal-cord biopsy did not kill Joan Rivers

“Even though you are a licensed physician, you still should have, if you will, the checks and balances to get your approval to practice in that particular place,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

Investigators believe that Rivers’ vocal chords began to swell during the allegedly unauthorized biopsy, cutting off the flow of oxygen to her lungs, which led to cardiac arrest on the morning of August 29, the source said.

Rivers, 81, was rushed by paramedics from Yorkville Endoscopy to New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital a mile away, where she died a week later.

Yorkville Endoscopy issued a statement last Thursday denying reports that any vocal cord biopsy has ever been done at the clinic, although federal privacy law prevented any patient information from being released.

The day after the denial was issued, the clinic confirmed that Dr. Cohen “is not currently performing procedures…nor is he currently serving as medical director.”

The source said that at this time neither Cohen nor the ear, nose and throat doctor have been accused of wrongdoing by investigators.

The clinic declined to respond to the source’s comments about a biopsy or a selfie, citing federal privacy law.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

2 comments

  • Kristal

    I am confused….
    Isn’t taking a selfie or doing an unauthorized biopsy with a license at the place of procedure a good enough reason to say the doctors are at some fault, the doctors are idiots, and they’re going to be sued real bad!!?

  • Greg Fricke

    I am so sick of all the hoopla made over this woman. She was nothing but an emulator, and not a very good one at that. The real genius, the REAL femme d’comedienne who should be getting the credit for breaking ground for women in comedy, is Elaine May. She is the one Rivers modelled herself after, and upon whose coattails she made her career.