The iconic comedian died during throat surgery

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January 26, 2015 06:30 PM

Joan Rivers‘s daughter is suing the New York City clinic where the comedian underwent the surgery that led to her death.

Melissa Rivers filed a lawsuit against the Yorkville Endoscopy Center on Monday, calling it “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make.”

Joan stopped breathing during a throat procedure on her vocal cords there in August and died a week later. She was 81.

According to the complaint obtained by PEOPLE, doctors 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. They also continued to operate even as Joan was in an extremely hypotensive and bradycardic state, meaning she had low blood pressure and heart rate.

But perhaps the most damning allegation is that Joan s personal physician, Dr. Gwen Korovin, who was not credentialed to perform surgery at Yorkville Endoscopy or even be in the room, performed the unapproved laryngoscopies. And when Joan s vitals plummeted, she left “to avoid getting caught,” the complaint states, later lying about what had happened on Joan s chart.

“What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, [my son] Cooper and I have been through,” Melissa said in a statement Monday. “The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect, and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible.

“Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better. It is my goal to make sure that this kind of horrific medical treatment never happens to anyone again.”

None of the six doctors named in the suit were properly trained to handle emergency complications, according to the complaint, which also confirms reports that Korovin and Dr. Lawrence Cohen took a selfie with Joan as she lied unconscious on the operating table, violating her right to privacy.

In November, the New York State Dept. 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,” according to the department’s report.

WATCH: Melissa Rivers’s Emotional Tribute to Her Late Mother

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