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What can we learn from Joan River's death?

Joan Rivers was a popular figure in Houston and across the country. When she died last week the nation was shocked and saddened by the loss. With high profile deaths, it can be a good time to learn about what can go wrong in medical procedures.

Joan Rivers was undergoing an elective procedure at a clinic in New York when she underwent cardiac arrest. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, they can suffer from oxygen deprivation and brain damage. In some cases, the damage is too great to keep the patient on life support.

There are some things we can learn from her experience. Older adults may want to measure the risks involved in procedures and perhaps only take part in procedures that are absolutely necessary. No procedure is risk free and for many older adults the procedure can be hard on your body. If the procedure is determined to be critical, then research the doctor performing the procedure along with the anesthesiologist. The more experience these professionals have, the better, and the less of a risk of an anesthesia error or a doctor mistake.

An internal medicine doctor or cardiologist can also guide you in determining if you are in good enough health to undergo the procedure. Finally, older adults should consider having these procedures done at a hospital instead of a free-standing building. If something goes wrong time is of the essence, and if resuscitation is necessary then the sooner it is done the better.

As we have learned from Joan Rivers' death, no procedure is risk-free. Although there has not been a wrongful death suit filed in the case of Joan Rivers, many people across the country have fallen victim to surgical procedures that have resulted in death. Knowing the risks, especially for older adults, is important in making sure an unexpected death does not happen.

Source: foxnews.com, "Joan Rivers and you: Understanding risks when procedures require anesthesia," Dr. Marc Siegel, Sept. 5, 2014

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