Joan Rivers

Dear Melissa,

I owe you an apology on behalf of my irresponsible medical colleagues who let their shallow ego cloud their clinical judgment and ultimate killed your mother.

I took the death of your mother personally because we were both born in Brooklyn and that connection alone creates a bond that transcends cultural, economic and social differences. Joan Rivers was a Brooklyn girl and on that solitary principal, she was loved and revered.

Dr. Gwen Korovin, the specialist who performed the fatal procedure did not have privileges to operate in the t clinic, yet jumped ahead of the staff and began to operate which caused a cascade of mistakes. She had to stop the procedure at least once because she couldn’t see as reported by the staff during the State investigation. The wrong amount of anesthesia was given. A biopsy was done without her permission

The New York State investigation of your mom’s medical fiasco only brings to light what happens on a daily basis. As I type this letter, medical negligence is occurring. Somewhere an office, clinic or hospital is understaffed and therefore not equipped to handle an unforeseen emergency; or someone did not check the equipment because they were distracted; or, an important lab report was missed because of lack of follow-up or; someone is not following medical protocol or standard of care.

Melissa , you have every right to be angry. Physicians like Korovin make all of us look bad although most of us don’t have medical practices on prime New York City real estate or celebrity patients.

As a physician who has been committed to patient safety for years longer than I care to admit, let’s take this tragedy and turn it into a victory. Let’s establish a Joan Rivers Patient Safety Awareness Act that will educate the public on red flags to be aware of before they have medical procedures. If we do this in honor of your mom, maybe she can finally rest in peace.