Source Names Doctor Who Allegedly Started Biopsy on Joan Rivers

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 9/18/2014, 2:29 p.m.
Dr. Korovin will not make "any public comment on recent press reports," her lawyer says.
Joan Rivers, 81, died a week after an appointment at Yorkville Endoscopy in New York City, New York on August 28, 2014. CNN

By Alan Duke and Susan Candiotti

The doctor who began a biopsy on Joan Rivers' vocal cords before she suffered cardiac arrest last month has been identified by clinic staffers as Dr. Gwen Korovin, a source close to the death investigation said.

Korovin is the same doctor who a clinic staff member told investigators snapped a selfie in the procedure room while Rivers was under anesthesia on August 29, the source said.

Rivers, 81, died a week after suffering cardiac arrest during an appointment at Manhattan's Yorkville Endoscopy clinic.

Rivers' throat doctor is well known for helping an impressive list of celebrities with voice trouble. The list of famous patients who have sung her praises include actors Hugh Jackman and Nathan Lane and singers Celine Dion, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande.

The walls of Dr. Korovin's Manhattan medical office are covered with autograph photos, including from operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Broadway star Barbara Cook and actress-singer Julie Andrews.

"I've always been fascinated by the human voice and music," Korovin, 55, is quoted telling the New York Daily News in a profile story last year.

Dr. Korovin's lawyer sent a statement to CNN Thursday in response to the reports:

"Gwen S. Korovin, M.D. is a highly experienced, board certified otolaryngologist. She maintains privileges at one of the city's most prestigious hospitals. She is respected and admired by her peers in the medical community and she is revered by her patients.

"As a matter of personal and professional policy, Dr. Korovin does not publicly discuss her patients or their care and treatment. Further, Dr. Korovin is prohibited by state and federal confidentiality laws from discussing her care and treatment of any particular patient.

"For these reasons, neither Dr. Korovin nor her attorneys will have any public comment on recent press reports regarding her practice. We ask that the press please respect Dr. Korovin's personal and professional policy of not discussing her patients, as well as the privacy of her patients."

Korovin joined Rivers at her appointment on August 28 for an endoscopy procedure intended to diagnose why the comedian was suffering a sore and hoarse throat, a source close to the death investigation told CNN.

Korovin was only authorized to observe while another doctor, gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence Cohen, performed the procedure, the source said. After Cohen, the clinic's medical director, finished his work, Korovin began a biopsy on Rivers, according to the source.

Investigators believe that Rivers' vocal cords began to swell during the allegedly unauthorized biopsy, cutting off the flow of oxygen to her lungs, which led to cardiac arrest on the morning of August 29, the source said.

Rivers was rushed by paramedics from Yorkville Endoscopy to New York's Mount Sinai Hospital a mile away, where she died a week later.

Korovin was not certified by Yorkville Endoscopy clinic, as required by New York health law, to perform procedures there and no prior consent form signed by Rivers authorizing a vocal cord biopsy were found by investigators, the source said.