In the last decade, many hospitals, physician groups and other medical entities in New Mexico and across the country have built outpatient surgery centers that are equipped to handle routine procedures. These facilities allow hospital operating rooms to be used for complex surgeries and the care of trauma patients that require advanced equipment and specialized medical professionals. However, a recent high-profile medical malpractice lawsuit highlights how the lack of oversight and regulations in these outpatient facilities can tragically result in patient deaths.

In 2014, celebrated actress and comedienne Joan Rivers went to an outpatient surgical clinic for what should have been a routine and safe procedure. According to the lawsuit, several physicians were involved in treating Rivers. The suit further alleges that, although one of the physicians was not authorized to be in the surgical suite, the physician was present and also performed an unauthorized procedure.

Per the lawsuit, an endoscopy was started at that point, and Rivers’ vital signs began deteriorating. Additionally, a head physician allegedly even took unauthorized photographs of Rivers with his cellphone during this time. Soon after, doctors finally noticed that their patient was in distress, and they attempted to start emergency procedures. Tragically, the only physician who supposedly had the knowledge to perform the type of emergency procedure needed to save Rivers had left the room.

When a patient in New Mexico loses his or her life due to physician errors or negligence, his or her family and loved ones are confronted with the pain of the loss and feelings of anger associated with injustice. Victims and their loved ones who have endured similar traumatic events may benefit from contacting attorneys who are experienced in medical malpractice litigation. Attorneys can discuss the various legal options that are available to help victims seek justice during such traumatic times.

Source: ABC News, “Melissa Rivers Settles Medical Malpractice Suit With Joan Rivers’ Medical Clinic“, Aaron Katersky and Lesley Messer, May 12, 2016