Just as the world was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, word of a previously confidential $6 million settlement by Neil Armstrong's family and the hospital where he died in 2012. Documents regarding the settlement, which was reached two years later, were leaked to various news organizations.
The first man to set foot on the Moon underwent cardiac bypass surgery at a Cincinnati, Ohio, area hospital at the age of 82. He reportedly was up and about, even walking the halls of the hospital, after what appeared to be a successful surgery.
However, a pacing wire placed on his heart during the surgery reportedly caused a cardiac tear when it was removed. Although Armstrong was eventually taken back into the operating room, the tear had caused his blood pressure to drop, which in turn caused extensive organ damage. He passed away a few days later.
Doctors have weighed in on how this tragedy could have been prevented. One cardiac surgeon said that these wires often aren't even used for routine bypasses if the patient doesn't have heart rhythm issues.
However, when they are used, they have to be removed very carefully to prevent the kind of tear that Armstrong suffered. Reportedly, a nurse pulled his wire out rather than a doctor or even a physician assistant. Another issue was the delay in getting Armstrong into surgery to repair the tear and stem the bleeding.
The Armstrong family never even had to file a wrongful death suit against the hospital. The threat of a lawsuit blaming the hospital for the death of someone whom one of the family's attorneys called "iconic in the history of mankind" was apparently enough to get the hospital to agree to what was intended to be a confidential settlement.
Most families who have lost loved ones don't have this kind of leverage. They have to be prepared for the defendants to have experts testify on their behalf. They also have to deal with state-mandated caps on damages. However, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you seek justice and compensation for your loved one and your family.