July 25, 2019

Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon 50 years ago this past week, died at the age of 82, reportedly as a result of medical malpractice. An article in The New York Times on July 23, 2019 stated, “His two sons contended that incompetent post-surgical care at Mercy Health — Fairfield Hospital had cost Mr. Armstrong his life … Mr. Armstrong had undergone bypass surgery in early August 2012 … when nurses removed the wires for a temporary pacemaker, he began to bleed into the membrane surrounding the heart, leading to a cascade of problems that resulted in his death on Aug. 25.”

The New York Times reported that it had anonymously received in the mail 93 pages of documents related to Neil Armstrong’s medical treatment and the resulting medical malpractice claim. An unsigned note included with the documents reportedly stated that the anonymous sender of the materials was motivated by the hope that the information provided would save other lives.

The New York Times article reports that Neil Armstrong was admitted to Fairfield Hospital, a community hospital in Fairfield, Ohio, with symptoms of heart disease. Immediate bypass surgery was performed at the hospital (the timing of the surgery was later criticized by some medical experts) during which the surgeons implanted temporary pacemaker wires to regulate his heart beat while he recovered from the surgery.

The New York Times reports that when a nurse removed the temporary wires, Neil Armstrong began bleeding internally and his blood pressure dropped. An echocardiogram performed in the hospital’s catheterization lab allegedly showed significant and rapid bleeding, which led to the doctors draining some blood from his heart to relieve pressure.

Neil Armstrong was transferred from the cath lab to the operating room, where an unspecified procedure was performed. Neil Armstrong died a week later, which his family stated at the time was caused by “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.”

Experts who reviewed the medical records after Neil Armstrong’s death reportedly criticized the hospital’s decision to treat him in the cath lab instead of immediately transporting him to the operating room as well the hospital’s decision to immediately perform the bypass procedure. Although the hospital also had experts review its care of Neil Armstrong, some of whom concluded that the care he was provided was defensible, the hospital reportedly agreed to a secret, confidential settlement.

The hospital reportedly was under great pressure to settle the family’s medical malpractice wrongful death claim, which originally demanded $7 million, as demonstrated by the hospital’s letter to the family’s lawyer (the wife of one of Neil Armstrong’s sons) on July 8, 2014 that reportedly stated, “Do Mark and Rick [Neil Armstrong’s two sons] intend to discuss the wrongful death claim at the Kennedy Space Center if no settlement is reached by Friday, July 18?,” which was three days before the scheduled celebration of the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, on Monday, July 21.

The reported $6 million settlement that was reached reportedly includes the family’s agreement to pay back the settlement proceeds if they ever publicly disclosed the settlement and its terms.


Official documents filed with the Probate Court apparently confirm the $6 million medical malpractice wrongful death settlement, showing that Neil Armstrong’s two sons each received $2,594,316.51, Neil Armstrong’s brother and sister received $250,000 each, and Neil Armstrong’s six grandchildren received $24,000 each from the settlement. Neil Armstrong’s wife (his second wife) reportedly did not participate in the settlement.


If you or a loved one may have suffered serious harm as a result of medical negligence in Ohio or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Ohio medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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