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Joan Rivers‘ throat doctor is denying the claims in a lawsuit filed against her on Monday that she was absent from the procedural room when the host required revival.
Melissa Rivers, Fashion Police executive producer and daughter to the late host, filed a lawsuit in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday that further claims Dr. Gwen Korovin, Rivers’ throat doctor, ignored warnings from anesthesiologist Dr. Renuka Bankulla.
On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article citing Melissa’s lawsuit, which claims the anesthesiologist warned Korovin that inserting an instrument down Rivers’ windpipe would cause her throat to react. Bankulla alleges that Korovin progressed with inserting the instrument, which in turn closed Rivers’ vocal cords. As a result, according to the lawsuit, Rivers required a cricothyrotomy (an emergency airway puncture), but Bankulla’s handwritten statement claims that when the anesthesiologist looked for Dr. Korovin “she could not be found in the procedure room.”
Doctors made the call to resuscitate Rivers at 9:28 a.m. on Aug. 28. At 9:48 a.m., Bankulla succeeded in inserting a tube into Rivers’ windpipe to oxygenize her.
William Lewis, Korovin’s lawyer, refuted the claims made by Bankulla in the New York Times interview: “Not only did she never leave the room, she was the last doctor to leave the room after Miss Rivers was taken away by E.M.S. in an ambulance.”
The lawsuit claims that Korovin, who was not credentialed to practice at Yorkville Endoscopy, abandoned the procedural room because she “wanted to avoid getting caught.”
Melissa Rivers’ lawyer Jeffrey B. Bloom raised questions about Korovin’s presence during the emergency: “She’s an airway specialist. Why isn’t she stepping forward and saying, ‘I’ll do it,’ or ‘You do it,’ or ‘Somebody do it,’ ” the New York Times article states. “Instead she obviously did nothing.”
In an earlier NY Times article, federal health investigations found that Dr. Lawrence Cohen, who no longer works at the clinic, took a cell phone picture of Korovin and the patient during the operation.
Rivers died on Sept. 4, a week after suffering cardiac and respiratory arrest.
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