Joan Rivers Surgeon Thinks Anesthesiologists Are a Waste of Money For Throat Procedure

1/8/2015 1:00 AM PST

Joan Rivers Surgeon Thinks Anesthesiologists Are a Waste of Money for Throat Procedure

EXCLUSIVE

The surgeon who performed the throat procedure on Joan Rivers the day she went into cardiac arrest wrote an article telling his fellow doctors it's not cost-effective to have an anesthesiologist present for procedures like the one that killed Joan.

Dr. Lawrence Cohen -- who was also the Medical Director of the Yorkville Endoscopy Center -- wrote in 2012 ... it was not always COST-EFFECTIVE to have an anesthesiologist on board for outpatient endoscopic procedures.  

Dr. Cohen writes, "Although we can all agree that [monitored anesthesia care] is a highly effective and safe method of sedation, the question is whether it is worth the extra cost to our health care system."

Dr. Cohen then answers his question: "The answer is clearly no."

Dr. Cohen crunches the number in his article, saying the average cost for an anesthesiologist is $400 per procedure, but the risk of death is 1 out of 100,000. Cohen therefore concludes it costs $40,000,000 to save one life, adding that cost "far exceeds ... an acceptable level of cost-effectiveness."

There was an anesthesiologist present at the beginning of the procedure, but our sources say it's unclear if she was there when Joan's vital signs plummeted. A scathing report blamed the doctors for being inattentive and not noticing her vital signs were in the danger zone.