Melissa Rivers Says Joan Rivers' Death Was "100 Percent Preventable"—Watch Now!

"I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," she says

By Francesca Bacardi May 04, 2015 12:57 PMTags

Almost eight months after her mother's death, Melissa Rivers is opening up to the Today show's Matt Lauer about what it was like to walk into that New York clinic after getting a call in Los Angeles.

"I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," she said. "It becomes very surreal."

But Melissa said that she had a "very normal conversation" with her mom the night beforehand. "All she said was, 'Ugh, I hate having to do this. Getting old sucks," Melissa recalled.

When it unexpectedly took a turn for the worse, Melissa hopped on a plane. She explained to Lauer that while she was flying across the country to be with her mom she received emails telling her that the Fashion Police host had already been put into a medically-induced coma and were dropping her body temperature, which she "knew was bad."

Joan, 81, died a week after undergoing a minor throat procedure on her vocal chords after suffering from cardiac arrest during the surgery. Her 47-year-old daughter filed a malpractice suit against Yorkville Endoscopy, where her mom's complication occurred.

Paul Fenton/ZUMA Press

"In my opinion, it was 100 percent preventable," she said of the comedienne's death. "How about paying attention to the vital signs?  How about having a properly equipped crash cart?"

Melissa released a statement when the news of her lawsuit broke, explaining why she decided to take legal action against the clinic. "Filing this lawsuit was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make," Melissa said. 

"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. The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect, and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible."

The Fashion Police executive producer continued, "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."

Melissa explained that the lawsuit wasn't about money but instead was a way to delve deeper into what happened and get some answers about her mother's passing. Since her death, Melissa has said that she isn't the only one struggling to grapple with the loss; her son Cooper was devastated, too.

"He would get away with everything and she would indulge him. I would say to her, 'Are you really trying to undermine all my authority?' And she'd say, 'Yeah, pretty much. Being a grandparent is the best because it's all of the fun and none of the crap,'" Melissa told People.

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