Joan Rivers’ doctors could have saved the comedian’s life if they’d begun administering CPR and called 911 as soon as she went into shock, according to a report from the New York Post, which cites medical records and sources with knowledge of Rivers’ case.
The 81-year-old star died on Sept. 4 after a routine procedure at a New York City clinic went terribly wrong. The Post reports that two doctors working on Rivers delayed CPR and continued to perform scoping procedures on her trachea and larynx for 14 minutes even though her pulse and blood pressure were dropping.
Dr. Lawrence Cohen, the now ousted medical director of Yorkville Endoscopy, where Rivers had her fatal procedure, and celebrity Ear, Nose and Throat doctor Gwen Korovin also spent 10 minutes trying to revive the former “Fashion Police” host on their own before they called 911 for help, The Post reports, citing EMT records.
A source told the newspaper by the time the emergency medical technicians got involved, it was too late for Rivers, who was already not breathing and had no pulse or heartbeat.
“She had cyanosis around the lips and the mouth — that’s when your lips turn blue from lack of oxygen,” the source said. “That takes several minutes without oxygen.”
The EMTs were able to restart Rivers’ heart and get oxygen into her lungs but by then her brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long.
“They should have stopped the procedure and started resuscitation right away and done an emergency tracheotomy if there was any obstruction,” the source told The Post. “Maybe she would still be alive.”
Several other mistakes were made during Rivers’ botched procedure. One of the doctors took a selfie during Rivers’ procedure, and the pair opted to administer Propofol, a sedative, even though her pulse and blood pressure were declining.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” a paramedic, who reviewed the records, told The Post. “You’re sedating someone who’s going into shock.”
Cohen is no longer associated with Yorkville Endoscopy. Korovin, who has worked on stars like Celine Dion and Julie Andrews, was not authorized to practice at the clinic and has stayed silent on Rivers’ death.
In November, state health investigators ruled that Yorkville Endoscopy made several errors during Rivers’ procedures. As a result of the state investigation, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has given Yorkville Endoscopy until Jan. 7 to correct deficiencies to avoid losing Medicare accreditation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.