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Celebrities Who Died Due to Medical Malpractice

Each year over 1.5 million patients become victims of medical malpractice in the US alone. Roughly a quarter million of these unlucky souls sustain injuries so severe that they end up dying. So, it shouldn’t really be that big of a surprise that, with numbers like those, celebrities would face the same risk of dying due to their doctors and surgeons making avoidable mistakes.

Some of the time, the accident in question is the direct result of a doctors’ failure to review their patients’ medical files before giving them their diagnosis, performing medical procedures, or rendering treatment.

Other times, it’s the medication or dosage of drugs that a doctor proscribes that ends up becoming the fatal problem. If a doc provides someone with a medication with known side effects at too high of a dosage. Or neglects to take into account other medications in their system, the results can be disastrous

The idea of dying at the hands of those that are supposed to protect us is downright terrifying. Fortunately incidents of medical malpractice are still relatively rare. For the most part, you can safely assume that your doctor has your best interests in mind and is doing everything possible to keep you healthy when you’re experiencing a medical crisis.

Even so, sometimes things can still go horribly wrong. And the families and friends of the celebrities we’re about to discuss in this video know this all too well. Join us as we review the troubling cases of several well-known celebrities that have died due to medical malpractice.

Bill Paxton

Born May 17, 1965, in Fort Worth, Texas, this actor, best known for his roles in films such as Big Love, Aliens, and Titanic. He died of a stroke in February 2017 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Several days before he passed, Paxton had scheduled open-heart surgery to correct an aortic aneurysm and replace a faulty heart valve.

The surgery initially appeared to be a success. Paxton’s surgeon had used a high rick and very unconventional surgical approach during the procedure. And lacked the experience to do so confidently. This shocking truth discovered by the medical examiner that had tasked with examining the late actor’s body postmortem.

Paxton’s family promptly filed a malpractice lawsuit after his death. In their suit, they alleged that the surgeon had misrepresented or concealed several pieces of information regarding the potential risk of the surgery. And that mistakes that he had made contributed to Paxton’s complications in the ensuing days following his surgery.

Bill left behind two children and his devastated wife. He was 61 years old when he passed. In 2022, Paxton’s surviving family members reached a partial settlement with the anesthesiologist medical group that provided their services during Bill’s botched surgery. This group agreed to pay Paxton’s widow and kids $1 million in damages.

Joan Rivers

Comedian Joan Rivers was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 8, 1933. In 2014, she suffered a heart attack. And then put into a medically-induced coma by the medical professionals over at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. All of this transpired just days after Rivers had undergone a relatively routine surgery on her throat at Ambulatory Surgical Center, a nearby outpatient clinic.

Just days after placed into that coma, the ‘Fashion Police’ star died on September 4, 2014.

After more than two months of investigations, federal authorities announced on November 10, 2014. That the clinic had made numerous mistakes before and during River’s procedure. Joan’s daughter, Melissa, subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit with the state Supreme Court in Manhattan in 2015. And that accused the doctors who oversaw her surgery of performing unauthorized medical procedures as well failing to act swiftly when her vital signs plummeted. Shockingly, it’s even alleged that the surgeons paused during the procedure to take a selfie with the dying star!

In 2016 it reported that River’s family had settled their malpractice lawsuit with the facility where Joan had her surgery. The details of this settlement have never publicly stated. Join us as we review the troubling cases of several well-known celebrities that have died due to medical malpractice.

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John Ritter

The Three’s Company actor, John Ritter, died of an undetected aortic dissection in 2003.

Ritter was born on the 17th of September, 1948, and was the son of the ‘singing cowboy’ star Tex Ritter. Throughout his career, he appeared in over 100 films and TV shows. And with notable roles in films like Problem Child, Sling Blade, and Bad Santa.

Younger viewers might also recall that he provided the voice for the titular character on the PBS animated children’s show Clifford the Big Red Dog from 2000 to 2003.

While on the set of 8 Simple Rule for Dating My Teenage Daughter in Burbank, California, Ritter suddenly fell ill on the afternoon of September 11, 2003. The star started vomiting, sweating profusely, and complaining about severe pain in his chest.

He was rushed to Providence Street Joseph Medical Center which was fortunately across the street from the Walt Disney Studio Lot where he was working. At first, doctors treated Ritter for what they suspected to be a heart attack. However, his condition continued to deteriorate quickly. They then realized that John was suffering from an aortic dissection, and he was rushed to surgery.

Sadly, they weren’t able to repair the dissection, and Ritter was pronounced dead at 10:48 pm.

In 2008, Ritter’s wife filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the doctors who were involved in John’s treatment . The malpractice lawsuit was later settled out of court for $9.4 million.

An additional $67 million wrongful-death suit against cardiologist Joseph Lee and radiologist Matthew Lotysch ended up going to trial. In court Ritter’s wife accused Lee of misdiagnosing her husband with a heart attack. And Lotysch of failing to detect an enlargement of Ritter’s aorta when he had given him a full-body scam two years before the incident.

The jury in that case ended up concluding, however, that neither doctor had acted negligently nor were they responsible for Ritter’s death. Join us as we review the troubling cases of several well-known celebrities that have died due to medical malpractice.

Freddie Prinze

In 1977 the up-and-coming comedian and actor Freddy Prinze, best known for his role in NBC’s Chico and the Man, shot himself in the head and died at the age of 22. Prinze had suffered from depression which had worsened in the weeks prior to his suicide.

On the evening of January 29, 1977, a little over a month after his wife had filed for divorce, Prinze received a visit from his business manager, Dusty Snyder, moments after getting off the phone with his estranged wife.

While Dusty was visiting him, Prinze put a handgun to his head and pulled the trigger. He was rushed to UCLA Medical Center and was put on life support after undergoing emergency surgery to try and save his life, but his family chose to take him off life support when it was learned that he was brain dead.

Although Prinze had a history of playing Russian Roulette to shock his friends, this time he had left behind a note stating that he had decided to take his wife. His death thus was ruled a suicide.

In 1983, however, Prinze’s mother, wife, and son opened a civil case against Crown Life Insurance company. The jury in that case determined that Freddie’s death was tied to the medication he was on and was more than likely accidental. This verdict enabled Prinze’s surviving loved ones to collect $200,000 from the life insurance company.

Later, Prinze’s psychiatrist and doctor ended up paying Prinze’s family $1 million in an out-of-court settlement to put an end to a malpractice suit that had been brought against them. Join us as we review the troubling cases of several well-known celebrities that have died due to medical malpractice.

Lisa Robin

Best known for her role as Laurie Forman on That 70s Show, Robin died in her sleep just days after checking into Pax Rehab House in Altadena, California, on August 15, 2013. She was just 43 years old.

Less than a year later, The LA Department of Coroner concluded that Lisa’s death was the result of an accidental drug overdose.

In June 2019, several news outlets reported that Robin’s family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the rehab facility. The lawsuit was filed with the Superior Court of California. And alleged that the facility’s negligence led to Robin’s wrongful death.

As of 2022, this particular malpractice lawsuit has yet to be settled.

Ed McMahon

For over 30 years, McMahon served as Johnny Carson’s loyal second bannana on The Tonight Show. Ed also hosted the original Star Search, co-hosted the NBC series TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes. And presented sweepstakes for American Family Publishers.

He also made several film appearances in flicks like Fun With Dick and Jane, Full Moon High, the Incident, and Butterfly.

McMahon passed away in the early hours of June 23, 2009, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Facility in Los Angeles. No cause of death was given, but his publicist attributed his passing to several health problems that he had been suffering from in the months leading to his death.

Two years before his death, McMahon had broke his neck in a fall in 2007. An injury he would never fully recover from.

In May 2009, McMahon settled a medical malpractice lawsuit with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The hospital that had treated him after his 2007 fall. The suit alleged that the medical facility had improperly diagnosed his broken neck. Sent him home without an x-ray, and made multiple mistakes in two operations he underwent. The exact amount of the settlement was never publicized. Join us as we review the troubling cases of several well-known celebrities that have died due to medical malpractice.

That about wraps up this video, which means now it’s your turn to have your voice be heard. In the comments, feel free to share which celebrity malpractice case you found most disturbing. If you know of any other stars who have been the victims of medical malpractice, let us know.

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