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Routine surgeries can wind up as fatal events

While an argument could be made that there are no routine surgical procedures, as any use of anesthesia can cause complications, patients do not usually expect to die during outpatient surgeries.

Physician errors and negligence, however, can turn even the most minor outpatient surgeries into fatal events. Such was the case of tart-tongued comic Joan Rivers, who died days after going into cardiac arrest while anesthetized during surgery almost two years ago.

Last month, Rivers' daughter, Melissa, agreed to settle her lawsuit against the clinic, doctors and their insurance companies for their roles in the malpractice actions that claimed the life of her mother. While the terms of the settlement amount remain undisclosed, it should be noted that the doctors accepted responsibility for the elder Rivers' death.

The malpractice lawsuit, filed last year in Manhattan's State Supreme Court named three anesthesiologists, an ear, nose and throat doctor, Yorkville Endoscopy and its medical director as defendants in the suit.

As part of the agreement, the physicians agreed not to challenge the claims in the litigation. The clinic spokesperson stated, "The parties agreed to settle this case to avoid protracted litigation."

A series of negligent acts and errors exacerbated complications that Rivers suffered while anesthetized during an endoscopy and a laryngoscopy, according to the medical examiner of New York City, who was tasked with investigating her death.

While this high-profile case received extensive publicity, Rivers' death was unfortunately not an isolated "never incident." Far too many New York surgery patients suffer needlessly and even die because of very preventable errors.

If you lose a loved one due to surgical mistakes, you can pursue civil justice by filing a claim for damages.

Source: The New York Times, "Settlement Reached in Joan Rivers Malpractice Case," Mark Santora, accessed June 17, 2016

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