Melissa Rivers on 8-Figure Malpractice Settlement: 'I Hope That This Sparks Conversation'
By Raphael Chestang
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Following the multi-million dollar settlement reached in the malpractice lawsuit filed by Melissa Rivers after the death of her mother, legendary comedian Joan Rivers, Melissa says she hopes the outcome "sparks conversation."
"I hope that this sparks conversation about care and policy at ambulatory surgical centers," Melissa told ET on Friday. "If talking about what happened to my mother can help even one other family, it will have been worth it. As painful as it's been to go through this, Cooper and I are grateful for the speedy resolution which gave us answers to so many of our unanswered questions."
Tragically, Joan never recovered from a routine endoscopy in August 2014. After going into cardiac arrest on the operating table, she was placed into a medically-induced coma and died a week later at the age of 81.
ET spoke with Melissa's attorneys, Jeffrey Bloom and Ben Rubinowitz, following Thursday's settlement.
"We do know that Joan, before she went under, was talking about how she was going to help somebody who had an autistic child," said Bloom.
"I think [Melissa] is relieved that the case is resolved, but Melissa's son, Cooper, was in love with his grandmother and will never get to see her again," Rubinowitz added.
Meanwhile, the clinic that treated Joan, Yorkville Endoscopy, told ET, "The parties agreed to settle this case to avoid protracted litigation. We remain committed to providing quality, compassionate healthcare."
According to The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner's (OCME) investigation, the cause of Joan's death was anoxic encephalopathy (brain damage) due to hypoxic arrest (a decrease in oxygen to the brain) during surgery -- a laryngoscopy and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.
Joan's death was classified as a "therapeutic complication," which means that the death officially resulted from a predictable complication of medical therapy.
Now, Melissa is all about preventing these types of tragedies from occurring again.
"Moving forward, my focus will be to ensure that no one ever has to go through what my mother, Cooper and I went through and I will work towards ensuring higher safety standards in out-patient surgical clinics," Melissa told ET. "I want to express my personal gratitude to my legal team for their wise counsel and prompt resolution of this case."