New York clinic that treated Joan Rivers says no biopsy performed prior to death

Flowers are placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star for Joan Rivers in Hollywood, California on Sept 4, 2014, following news of the comedian's death in New York at the age of 81. The New York clinic where Rivers stopped breathing a week before
Flowers are placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star for Joan Rivers in Hollywood, California on Sept 4, 2014, following news of the comedian's death in New York at the age of 81. The New York clinic where Rivers stopped breathing a week before her death has denied ever administering general anesthesia or conducting a vocal cords biopsy that has been alleged in media reports as contributing to her demise. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The New York clinic where comedian Joan Rivers stopped breathing a week before her death has denied ever administering general anesthesia or conducting a vocal cords biopsy that has been alleged in media reports as contributing to her demise.

It was the first time the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic issued a statement since Aug 28, when Rivers was rushed to a nearby hospital from the centre with cardiac arrest. She died at age 81 on Sept 4.

New York's Daily News newspaper reported on Wednesday that an unplanned vocal cord biopsy at the clinic had left the Brooklyn-born comedian unable to breathe.

Rivers' doctor, who said he was an ear, nose and throat specialist, asked if he could use the clinic's instruments when another doctor said he had noticed something on Rivers' vocal cords, and Rivers' physician was given the go-ahead, a medical source told the newspaper.

"A biopsy like that should only be done in hospital," the newspaper quoted the unnamed medical source as saying. "If she had been in a hospital when it happened, she might have been OK."

In its statement, the clinic did not mention Rivers by name.

"A biopsy of the vocal cords has never been performed at Yorkville Endoscopy," it said. "General anesthesia has never been administered."

The cause of Rivers' death is still unknown pending further tests, according to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

The clinic did not respond for a telephone request for further information.

The State Health Department is investigating the clinic. It is reviewing documents and medical records and interviewing staff and physicians at the clinic in Manhattan's Yorkville neighborhood, which opened in February 2013.

The clinic said its board-certified anesthesiologists use light to moderate sedation and monitor the patient continuously using state-of-the-art equipment.

"Yorkville Endoscopy has strict policies in place for the criteria of who gets treated in this centre versus in a hospital," it said, adding that it also has all the airway equipment needed for emergency intubation. The clinic said it has performed more than 18,000 procedures.