We may never really know what caused comedienne Joan Rivers’ death. According to Radar Online, a new report has emerged that says an autopsy was never done on Rivers’ body.
Reportedly Rivers’ daughter Melissa was deeply grief stricken after her mother’s sudden and tragic death, and did not want an autopsy performed. During an autopsy, a corner looks at the deceased’s organs to determine the exact cause of death. In Rivers case, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office may have felt they had enough information to conclude a cause of death without a full autopsy because Rivers died during a medical procedure and was hospitalized immediately after she went into cardiac arrest. Both the medical procedure and the hospitalization would generate scans and medical charts, which could be used to investigate Joan Rivers’ death without a full autopsy.
On August 28, 81-year-old Rivers had a reportedly routine procedure which the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office as a laryngoscopy and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. During a laryngyoscopy, a scope roughly the circumference of a pinky finger is threaded through Rivers’ esophagus and the upper part of the stomach. Physicians use the scope, which has a camera on the end, to perform procedures and search for tissue damage.
In Rivers’ case, the procedure was being done to investigate vocal changes due to gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD), a disease in which stomach acid backs up into the throat and causes burns and can alter the sound of the voice. If left untreated, GERD can lead to an increased risk of esophageal cancer.
In their investigative report, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Propofol sedation caused Rivers’ blood oxygen levels become dangerously low (hypoxic arrest), damaged the tissues in her brain (anoxic encephalopathy), and ultimately caused her death. Propofol is the same powerful medical sedative that was linked to the death of Michael Jackson.
Melissa Rivers released a public statement following the New York City medical examiner’s investigation report, in which she said that she “continue(d) to be saddened by (the) tragic loss,” and that she had “no further comment at this time.”
The report does not indicate why Rivers’ blood oxygen levels dropped, and it does not speculate why medical staff involved in Rivers’ treatment failed to see the fall in oxygen levels in time to prevent the fatal damage. While none of the medical team involved in Rivers’ endoscopy has officially been charged with any wrongdoing in her death, the physician who performed the endoscopy, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, resigned from the clinic where the procedure was performed ahead of being fired by the board of directors. The clinic is also under investigation by the New York State Department of Health.
Melissa Rivers is also expected to file a lawsuit against Dr. Gwen Korovin. Korovin accompanied Rivers to the clinic, and was performing a biopsy when the comedienne went into respiratory and cardiac arrest. Korovin is not affiliated with the clinic where the endoscopy was performed.