Doctors Involved in Joan Rivers Final Surgery Are Still Licensed to Practice Medicine
Joan Rivers stopped breathing during a routine throat procedure in August 2014 and died a week later
brightcove.createExperiences(); The doctors at the center of the lawsuit surrounding Joan Rivers‘ death still hold their medical license, PEOPLE has confirmed.
While details of the settlement were not disclosed, Melissa exclusively told PEOPLE on Friday: “We finally have what we were looking for answers. We wanted to unearth what happened and now I can look my son in the eye and tell him exactly that – and that someone’s taking responsibility for it.”
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According to the original lawsuit, which Melissa filed in January 2015, doctors at the Yorkville Endoscopy Center performed procedures beyond what Joan had consented to while she was sedated – and failed to realize she was losing oxygen until it was too late. The complaint also stated they continued to operate even as Joan was in an extremely hypotensive and bradycardic state, meaning she had low blood pressure and heart rate.
The clinic, however, remains open today, and the doctors involved in the suit are still licensed to practice medicine.
Dr. Lawrence Cohen, who resigned from Yorkville shortly after Rivers’ death, is licensed and registered to practice medicine within New York State, according to the office of licensed professions. When reached by PEOPLE Friday, Cohen’s attorney declined to comment but confirmed Cohen still practices medicine.
Cohen, a gastroenterologist, conducted the endoscopy procedure and according to the suit was accused of reportedly taking cellphone pictures of Joan while she was unconscious on the operating table. (Cohen has denied he took a cellphone picture of Joan.)
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Dr. Gwen Korovin, who was Joan’s personal throat doctor but was not credentialed to perform surgery at Yorkville Endoscopy, remains licensed and registered to practice medicine within New York State, according to the office of licensed professions. She practices at an office in New York City.
According to the lawsuit, Korovin, a celebrity throat doctor, performed the unapproved laryngoscopies. When Joan’s vitals plummeted, the complaint stated Korovin left “to avoid getting caught,” later lying about what had happened on Joan’s chart.
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Dr. Renuka Reddy Bankulla, the reported anesthesiologist, is also licensed and registered to practice medicine within New York State, according to the office of licensed professions.
In November 2014, the New York State Department of Health found that mistakes made by Korovin and the clinic’s staff caused her irreversible brain damage.
“The physicians in charge of the care of the patient failed to identify deteriorating vital signs and provide timely intervention during the procedure,” read the department’s report at the time.
The clinic’s certification was pulled briefly in January 2015 following the report but was reinstated by March, according to USA Today.
As of Friday, the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct had not listed any discipline actions for Cohen, Korovin or Bankulla, though malpractice information is reviewed and collected on an ongoing basis.
Yorkville Endoscopy Center and Korovin’s attorney have not yet responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
In her statement to PEOPLE on Friday, Melissa also said that the events following her mother’s death have “started a conversation that was necessary, and we hope that this will instigate policy change so that fewer people have to suffer these devastating but avoidable circumstances.”