A celebrity is not a special patient

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Joan_RiversThe estate of comedienne Joan Rivers has filed a malpractice suit against the New York City clinic that had treated Rivers for a throat ailment this summer. Rivers died Sept. 4, one week after her procedure at Yorkville Endoscopy.

The media has been filled with allegations that the medical staff mismanaged Rivers’ procedure, took selfies during her operation, was incompetent and acted more star-struck than professional while working on the 81-year-old star, who was famous for her caustic humor and her mouthy defense of Israel.


Dr Garth Fisher, a Beverly Hills, Calif. plastic surgeon dubbed the top breast surgeon in Hollywood, spoke to Washington Jewish Week about what he referred to as the “celebrity phenomenon.” This occurs when a doctor forgets what is important and alters his methods while working on a famous patient.

“When [doctors] first come in, you are new and you are starry-eyed,” Fisher said. There is the temptation to “bend the rules a little bit, to give them exactly what they want.”

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That is never okay, Fisher stressed. “Taking a selfie with someone is just absurd, completely unprofessional,” he said. “Besides, when they wake up, you can do it and they will be smiling.”

A good doctor never lets a patient’s notoriety change the way he or she works, said Fisher, who has operated on such notables as the Kardashians. Physicians should never alter their medical judgment, no matter how desperately celebrities beg to have their stitches taken out a day or two early or ask to skip some lab work.


“They expect the doctor to bend the rules for them,” Fisher said. “You have to remember as a doctor” to never do that. “You just have to stick by your guns.”

Fisher specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery of the face, nose, breast and bod and has been in practice in California for 20 years. He still remembers being star-struck at first and having to resist the temptation to ask for autographs.

“Now, it’s no big deal,” said Fisher, the first doctor selected for the ABC series, “Extreme Makeover.”

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@SuzannePollak

 

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