April 24th, 2012
01:43 PM ET
Dick Clark died a day after prostate surgery
The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.
Hollywood producer and television legend Dick Clark died of a heart attack a day after having prostate surgery, according to a death certificate obtained by CNN.
Clark died last Wednesday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. The day before his death, he had an operation to relieve “acute urinary retention,” an inability to urinate.
“It’s a very painful condition,” says Dr. Kevin McVary, professor of urology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The operation is “exceedingly safe” according to McVary, a spokesman with the American Urological Association.
“The mortality rate is less than one in 1,000. That’s very low risk,” he says.
Patients with this kind of health history are usually screened by a doctor to test whether their heart is strong enough to withstand surgery, McVary says.
The surgery, known as transurethral resection of the prostate, is considered lower risk because it doesn’t involve an external incision. Instead, doctors insert a surgical tool through the tip of the penis and into the urethra, and then cut away prostate tissue to unblock the flow of urine.
It’s not known why Clark had a heart attack after this procedure. Surgery can be risky for cardiac patients. Anesthesia, for example, can be difficult on the heart, and so can blood pressure fluctuations that occur during surgery.
“Having surgery is a stressful event,” says Dr. Kenneth Rosenfield, an interventional cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “It might have been enough to tip him over.”
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He was high risk on any given day to have a heart attack with high blood pressure and diabetes and age. The anesthesia may have tipped him over. THe rest of the posts here are incorrect. He had a normal procedure for his condition
If they only knew what doctors go through
Those incompetent physicians butchered and killed poor Dick. Typical of what happens to many at these slice and dice hospitals.
Jesus... were you there? No. Are you a doctor? Definitely not. The rate at which people form their own false conclusions and then cry about it on the internet is exceedingly quick now.
As a diabetic I know I am at high risk for almost any kind of surgery. What people don't realize that as a diabetic you are more apt to have a stroke or heart attack 2 to 3 times more than healthy person. Also you are 50 times more apt to have a blood vessel break inside of you than a healthy person. I learned this 34 yrs. ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes. That's why as a diabetic you need to have good control and eat properly and at the right times. Several years ago I had to have carotid artery surgery, and I knew what could happen before I went into surgery. But you have to take your chances.
In the first place Dick had already had a heart attack in '04 and then had the diabetes which probably weakened his system. And the surgery he had was necessary so he could urinate.
Thats terrible, I can't believe he's already gone! He doesn't deserve it.
Why not? We all live, we all die. He was an icon, but still human.
This is true. He was a good man and live a wonderful and full life. I could only wish the same for myself.
Idi0t, you are
De zick will b gratly missed instead of times square it should be clark times square he formed our entertatiment world as we know it my prayers go out for his beloved family.
Death is inevitable
So are inane, pointless comments like yours.
The man couldn't pee..what else could have been done and he was 82. Almost anything could have taken him out. I don't know many 82 yr old that are healthy enough for surgery. I agree to an extent with Emily the nurse, don't be selfish and keep people alive at all cost. My sister works in an experimental hospital and you should hear of the ghastly things they do to elderly people who should be "let go" instead of being kept alive suffering in the most horrible unimaginable pain. For families that do that, it's complete selfishness. Let them go and you be big enough to deal with your grief. Don't keep them here by any means necessary. Letting go is a part of life. Learn to deal with it.
I play and have played golf with many men in the 80's, late 80's. Keep moving. More people rust out than wear out.
You arrogant people need to allow the patient to decide what they want. The PATIENT, not you, not the family, and ABSOLUTELY not some so-called medical expert. Nurses are some of the nastiest laziest people on the planet now. A lot of them would let all their patients die as long as their paycheck clears. And like almost all Americans, of course, they know everything about everything.
Patient or if incompetent, the familt decides.
Doctors never decide for the patient i dont know where you get that from
Comments like these surprise me. When an Iconic figure like Dick Clark dies its oh well he was old but when its Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, or Whitney Houston The whole world mourns FOREVER over someone who sung. Be sad when an old one dies, be sad when a family member dies. DO NOT be sad when some dumb celeb decides ahh let me get high as a kite and see if I can fly or find never never land.
from the comments there seems to be a need to learn how to deal with death. We don't do that very well – when it is time to go back to Spirit it is time to go back. Prolonging life through painful medical procedures is not helping people. We don't know how to live or how to die. We have to take back our power and our Spirits.
Speak for yourself. I like to feel the ground under my feet, and not going anywhere.
have no fear, euthanasia is on its way. You first.
im with you Darlene. This life is a dream.
I work at that hospital. That hospital has the most laziest , most incompetent nurses I have ever seen. I think it was negligence on the hospital part
Have no idea where you live. My last trip to the hospital I could not have asked for better care, from everyone in the building.
You probably should not post stuff like that on here -best to talk to your managers...not put it out there on CNN -especially if this is not true...
Even if some of the staff are not up to par, I seriously doubt incompetent nurses were assigned to the care of Dick Clark – come on!
That's quite a bold statement. I wonder what the laws are regarding getting a warrant to force CNN to disclose the isp addresses of it's website commenters? I guess you'll be finding out Million Dollar Man. Good luck with that.
the system is broken
Hospitals in general are full of imcompetence. Nurses, physicians, and other staff are often lazy, shiftless, and dumb. It's a place where people go to die, even when faced with the simplest procedures.
Agreed. Just read the New England Journal of Medicine. The number 1 killer in the US is medical errors. Safer to stay home.
Shallow and limelight addict to the last breath....
Doesn't anyone just die of "old age" anymore? Sheesh...the man was in his 80's. Why is everyone so shocked that he had a heart attack and died?
Nobody EVER died of old age. "Old age" was just the term used when an obvious ailment wasn't visible. Less people die of old age because we know more about diseases.
I worked in a hospital's Admissions & Dispositions Office for two years. Part of my job was doing the paperwork when someone was "discharged" including filling out death certificates for the doctors. The terms "natural causes" and "old age" have been phased out and eliminated in most of the country. In California we had a list of all the possible options for the cause of death and those could not be used. There is also a field on the certificate where one can list contributing factors. So Mr. Clark's certificate probably listed the cause of death as acute myocardial infarction and the contributing factor was coronary artery disease and possibly also complications due to surgery for acute urinary retention.
My grandmother just wore out her body. Amusingly enough; she was actually watching "Dick Clark's Rocking Eve Show" for her last hurrah on December 31, 1999. She toasted in the New Year with my Dad & stayed up to as she said "watch the party a little longer" when he went off to bed. When he got up to turn the TV set off a few hours later, she had fallen into an irreversible coma from acute renal shut down. Her kidneys failed & every other organ followed rapidly. Simple old age. She had been walking around earlier that day & was fine, but at almost 97.....It was simply time to go.
When a person is poised on the edge, it can all happen quite rapidly. God bless you Dick, I hope you save a dance for my grandmother, she loves a good party!
What a Dick!
Dick was undergoing a simple procedure when somnebody erred. Simple surgeries shouldn't result in heart failure.
Jesus it's quite apparent you hold a grudge against medical professionals but please limit your comments to what you understand. The TURP did not cause "heart failure". Mr Clark had a myocardial infarction- essentially a piece of arterial plaque broke off causing obstruction of blood flow to his heart thus causing death of the muscle in the distribution of that artery. This was not caused directly from surgery but indirectly from a preexisting plaque. The procedure Mr. Clark underwent was elective and I'm sure he chose so weighing both risks and benefits. His death is unfortunate and tragic but not common with this procedure- one that is done thousands of times a year in this country. There are no guarantees with any surgery- that is the reality- but to disparage the physicians or staff involved is ignorant and disrespectful.
I'm not a medical person but a death rate of 1:1000 seems pretty darn high risk to me...
1 in 1000 means that there is a 0.1% chance of death. 0.1% isn't a high risk considering that 99.9% of patients survive this procedure...
Maybe you should take a math class.
He lived a long and happy life....thank goodness Dick Clark & his loved ones made the right choice to relieve his pain. RIP Dick..10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1 !! Thanks for the memories.
I work with nurses doing inspections of long term care facilitys. The only thing that really bothers me about nurses is that it seems like when someone is sick they are quick to make a statement such as quick to pull the plug. As one nurse put it "natural dieing process". I just feel some nurses dont want to give someone a chance to live. At least they dont make the decisions, the doctor/family does.
I don't know whom you work with, but I'm an ICU nurse and I can tell you that's not the case with me or anyone I've ever worked with (which is a LOT of nurses). A nurse's A#1 priority is the well being of his/her patient, with a close #2 being the well being of the patient's family. My job is to see that what's best for the patient, and what the patient and his family wants is what actually happens. If anything, my experience is that many (not all, but a big chunk) physicians don't know when to say "enough" and allow someone to die with a shred of dignity. I've worked with surgeons who would cut on someone who was taking his last breath if they thought it would make next month's boat/house/airplane payment. And I've been called to the medical director's office more than once to defend my actions in sticking up for my patient. Preserving life at any cost is not always the best course of action. Death with dignity is a **very** valid argument. Of course I want my patients to live. But we're all going to die someday. For myself, I would prefer that not be in agony and torment needlessly trying to extend my physiological life for another 48 hours to no good purpose. We spend a HUGE percentage of our health care dollars in America on patients in the last 6 months of their lives. Does that seem right?
Why don't you answer that after you've been diagnosed with six months left to live, and told that we're not funding treatment with that kind of outlook anymore. Go home and die. See how you like it if you're only 50, 60, 70.... and you have family and grandkids you like to see, if you have a life you want to keep living. If you're truly happy to get your coat after being told the party's over, more power to you. Don't make decisions for others.
jrh, well said and I'd be honored to have you as my nurse anyday! There are so many wonderful people in the world of nursing who care deeply for their patients and their families. They do much of the grunt work while the doctor puts their stamp of approval on the forms. Granted there are always the bad apples that taint the others but there are certainly more good/great nurses out there than tainted ones.
RIP Dick Clark. Sadly America's Oldest Teenager couldn't live forever...
Gee, I wonder why health insurance is so expensive? Gee, I wonder why health care is so expensive? All the law suits in the world won't bring Dick back. But, lawyers make a ton suing anyone for anything. The American way. He was a famous person and you may rest assured that he had some of the best medical folks around. No law suit here.
Nurses and docs are more interested in pushing DNR, had personnel experience with a friend and relative. After getting DNR they go back and sit on their butt and surf the net. Don't give DNR blindly they are just trying to make as much money not to help you.
And exactly how will they make money if you are dead?
nurses and docs make more money by dragging on dying patients day after day that should have been let go, but instead families cannot accept the fate at hand.
Its up to the patient you idiots
Can you say "lawsuit"? I'll bet that Mrs. Clark can. 😮
the dude was 8 million years old. seriously, what did you expect would kill him?
She ought to sue. People don't die after having their urinary tract cleaned out. Some incompetent physician screwed up.
There is a risk of death with ANY surgical procedure. It's a combination of both the surgery and the anesthesia involved. Even with a "simple" procedure, the stress of going under general anesthesia can be enough to cause peri-operatice complications. Especially when the patient has a pre-existing condition, like CAD. This was a very unfortunate event, but risk is involved with every surgery. It doesn't mean that someone screwed up. We don't know any of the facts so throwing blame around just shows ignorance.
I'm going to bet he was on a statin drug and that it destroyed his heart.
yes. a statin destroyed his heart by causing a coronary occlusion. makes sense if you're an idiot.
Thank god your not a doctor
Sounds like it was an urgent procedure to relieve acute urinary retention, which, if not relieved, can lead to renal failure, thereby complicating all of his other issues
At the age of Dick Clark to have a surgery -- I've known many peoiple at that age who would not want any surgery but that they be left to live their lives comfortably up to the time they die. Did he really want this surgery or was it done because he had money and that it will be quicker for him to die fast especially that they are complication or side effects that can occur after surgery. Sounds fishy to me. This is about money.
It was done so he would be able to pee again. Jeesh!!!!
Emily, you are absolutely right on. The elderly, including Dick Clark, have gone to great lengths to stay alive or have comfort measures. There are risks, and those need to be understood and accepted.
Lawsuits don't make medicine expensive. Doctors living in Multi million dollar homes driving BMWs sending their own kids through medical school, pharmaceutical companies charging astronomical rates for medicine, while the people running the pill companies live in multi million dollar homes and drive BMWs and send their kids off to Pharmacy school. Pharmacists start out making 6 figures, pill sales men start out making 6 figures. Nurses start out making 20 bucks an hour.
Ignorant comment from ignorant man who refuses to see the hard work it takes to become a healthcare proffessional. Blind envy, no regard towards hard work.
It's not their fault you've made nothing of yourself sir.
This is very true. The greed in the medical/pharma industry is ridiculous. Using the same economic model that McDonalds uses to make cheeseburgers is not a moral, or valid model for healthcare.
Also, anyone who reads this and disagrees, please don't post your disagreement, as I am correct and therefore you ar enot.
TO THE IGNORANT IDIOTS who think Dick Clark was murdered for his money: Mrs. Clark and he had a fabulous relationship which was the envy of Hollywood. She already had everything she could want, and was his right hand. When you live with a spouse worth hundreds of millions of dollars who adores you, the thought of violence–even disguised by medical procrdure is ludicrous at best and rediculous at worst. In fact, whether or not she has a suit for malpractice, these accusatory blogs could be construed as slanderous. It may be you who are getting sued.
Health care is a dubious business. Lost it's morality and is essentially a money mill based on peoples fear. We have the best health care in the USA money can buy – and that is really all it is about. Fresh water and sewerage service saves more lives every day. We need better roads – will save a lot of lives. Health care should be like other town utility services.
To the other Idiots who think it appropriate to second-guess the Doctors: Are you a doctor? And if so are you a urologist? And if so, did you examine Mr. Clark prior to the protocol being administered? And if not, were you readind his medical chart while naking your inane pronouncements? If your answers to the questions are all no, you are too stupid to walk and chew gum at the same time. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!
The most likely cause of his MI was the hospital's failure to monitor his blood glucose. As a former cardiology technician, most of my patients were diabetics on dialysis, with and without active heart disease. Extremely high blood glucose levels...over 500...cause potassium to leave the the cells and flood the bloodstream. This lack of potassium in the myocardium (cells of the heart muscles) is the most frequent cause of cardiac arrest in diabetics other than sepsis. Once the heart goes into it's characteristic arrhythmia due to blood glucose and potassium levels, it's simply not possible to safely get the potassium back into the cells. While insulin will drop the blood glucose levels, forcing the potassium back into the cells at the same time causes further cardiac events that are usually not possible to control except via a code blue. The most effect treatment is dialysis to pull the potassium off, but even in an emergency that's at least a 3 hour procedure, 20-30 minutes of which is spent just getting the patient and machine prepped. Often a code blue is ongoing while those preparations are happening. At best, doctors can only hope that they can keep the patient alive long enough for glucose and potassium levels to stabilize and the heart resumes a normal rhythm. Bottom line...surgery stresses the body and surgery in diabetics is dangerous, requiring more insulin than normal as well as glucose drips to provide energy to the body. It can be a horrifying ordeal when things go south. Like as not, Dick Clark had a blood glucose event due to the stresses of surgery and it all got out of hand.
Wow dude. You're a genius. It's like you were right there the whole time but didn't speak up to save his life. You need to ask for boss for a raise.
It sounds like Mr. Clark's family was trying to keep him comfortable during his last days, not prolong his life. Good for them.
I have a lot of experience with St. Johns in Santa Monica. While it is in Santa Monica and a hospital to the rich and famous it is because most of the sugeons there are amongst the best in the world. However post surgery the support staff and primarily the night staff there is atrocious. They couldn't care less.
My father had to wait 6 hours in the hallways after surgery because there was a shift change and the new nurses had to do their own socializing before they could be bothered to find him a room. The it goes downhill from there – the night staff do not care an ounce of the patients and are very very poorly trained. I have several first hand experinces with this.
Remember Dick Clark did not die during surgery but the day after when these people should have been taking care of him.
No human is an 'expert; at anything. Most so called 'doctors" are simply trial and error testers and don't know 1/2 the stuff they're doing. Most people get MRSA in hospitals and more and more will die from it because the Government is pathetic with its marriage to the pharmaceutical industry. The medical industry is yet another that brainwashes people into unwarranted comfort levels. Nowadays- no matter what the surgery- you could die very easily.
I'm surprised by the commentators that believe 82 is a very old age and that surgery either can't be done at that age or only prolongs an unhealthy and empty life. I'm 30 years younger than that, but each day I meet octogenarians that still run their successful businesses, golf, swim, drive around town and are in good health. Most of the men in my own family lived to be in their late eighties or early nineties and were happy and productive until close to the end. There are going to be a lot of 80-year-olds as the baby-boomers age and our society had better learn how to distinguish illness from age. Some 75 year olds are close to the end, but there are plenty of 85 year olds that still have a lot of resiliency and life left in them.
"The mortality rate is less than one in 1,000. That’s very low risk,” he says."..........................................Those are figures. You know what they say about figures.
I guess surgery kills, ban surgery.
wow. No more "Habby mew near!" Sad.
Its sad that people are litterally "mining" death certificates just to find out someones "personal" information.
You people make me sick. Mind your own business.
"I CAN'T PEE!!!!!!!!!!
Poor guy! Just another victim of a failed medical system that protects it's own at the expense of the rest of us.
Where is the element of privacy? Why should everyone in the world know this information about Dick Clark? Now we all know every detail about his health and what procedure he had done to his penis the day before he died. How is that preserving his dignity? I can't image he would be comfortable with the world knowing he had something inserted into the tip of his penis. Just becuse he is gone doesn't mean we should talk about his health and body like he wasn't a person.
Also, the surgery was something that was necessary to preserve his life... and acute urinary retention due to enlarged prostate is extremely painful. Anyone, regardless of age, would elect to go through with the procedure if faced with that ailment. We can't blame doctors for a decision that Mr Clark and his family made. Just because he had some medical issues (cardiovascular problems, diabetes, etc) doesn't mean he should just throw in the towel and choose to die of acute urinary retention. Would you? And if you had the ability to help him wouldn't you, too?
Thankfully most people have never been in such pain that they don't care if they live or die but just hope for the pain to stop. "The poor man couldn't urinate without this procedure. That pain is unimaginable."
There are incompetent and moronic people in every profession.
Old golfer, you can rest assure he had some of the best medical folks around? Were you there? What happened to John Ritter?
The "evil ,socialist" England has a cure for prostate cancer that works in 96% of men, no drugs, simple procedure, no side effects, and it is very affordable. Too bad Dick Clark believed the propaganda that the US has the best health care system in the world. Universal health care countries have better treaments, in fact the US is number 17 in quality, even though it has the most expensive health care in the world. Sorry Dick, someone should have checked first.
If this is true why do so many people leave Canada and come to the States to have their major surgery done here? My next door neighbor is from England and she said that most of the time you have a very long waiting list for ANY surgery. She is 84 years old and left England because of the "dismal" health care.
Geez, did Elizabeth Cohen have to write this article? This was way too personal. Is there no respect for a legend?
D ick who?
Is it the d......ck in his pants ?
@Todears...I am really sorry that you must have gone through something bad to feel that way about nurses. As someone who is graduating with a nursing degree in two weeks, your comment makes me sad. Through years of clinicals I have dealt with AMAZING nurses. As for my fellow students, we have put our families last, our social lives last and our bank accounts last in order to pursue the dream of nursing. We CARE strongly for our patients and at this point all want to save everyone. They even say when you start dont do it for the money. For the responsibilities that nurses have nurses typically
do NOT get paid quite enough, most do it because it is a calling. So I am sorry you feel that way, but I have to disagree with you.
As for Mr. Clark, he had a wonderful long full life. Prayers for his family members.
I know all MALES reading this cringed on the part where they INSERTED something in the penis!!
The article has no value.
Oh good grief! It's no ones fault! He had too many things going on with him to insure that he made it through safely. His choice to have the surgery. He chose not to live his last days with a catheter bag attached to his leg. It's up to the patient. I'm sure his wife was in charge of his living well and his medical directives.
My 82 year old friend had a double knee replacement. Doctor told him his risks, and because of his "advanced" age, the risks were higher. My friend said, "DO IT." Surgery was done, he survived it all, therapy and the whole 2 1/2 months recovery.
He just admitted to me recently that he doesn't remember his hospital time and nursing home therapy, just the few days before going home. Had he died, his family couldn't have sued because he signed the release papers to have the surgery. No one else. So basically... it's the patients choice!
I'm sure the doctors explained the risks and benefits of the procedure to Mr. Clark and his family before he just "sliced into him" as some of you are saying. In fact this procedure didn't involve any sharp instruments. However, it did involve anesthesia and for people with pre exisiting heart conditons this can, and did, pose a problem. After consideration he, or his family, consented for surgery and were willing to take the risk. The poor man couldn't urinate without this procedure. That pain is unimaginable. I'm sure any one of you would take the risk as well. Eventually he would have died from this but it would have been horrible and painful. He could have had a cathether which has risks of it's own or he could have just let it go and wait for his kidneys to shut down. At least this way he went quickly and with minimal pain!
I bet some of you are thinking that Obamacare would have saved him.
Oh for a split second I thought I read the headline "Dick Cheney died."
If that was the headline, my reply would be 50 years to late.......
YOU ARE ALL NAIVE AND SIMPLE MINDED....got your attention? Ah yeah probably....look he was DICK clark....got that DICK clark....now after that surgery one part of DICK clark woundnt apply....got that? From that point on, no matter what people called him...he would have been.....CLARK.....not DICK Clark......BUT JUST CLARK....he couldnt bare to live with that....that's all. RIP....a man named DICK clark can only take so much.....P.S. look DICK chenney......lost his heart....but that was certainly not a vital part of his existence and didnt bother him a bit....it all depends on which organ you really live by...see what I mean?