“Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty… the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” Neil Armstrong’s family released this tribute following his death after undergoing heart surgery in 2012. Armstrong’s sons later contended that after the astronaut’s bypass surgery that incompetent care at Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital is what cost Armstrong his life.
After being admitted to Fairfield Hospital with signs of heart disease, doctors at the hospital decided to perform bypass surgery. Doctors implanted temporary wires to help pace Armstrong’s heart as he recovered, a standard part of the medical procedure. Armstrong’s wife told The Associated Press that after the surgery Armstrong was “amazingly resilient” and was walking in the corridors of the hospital.
However, when a nurse removed these wires, Armstrong began to bleed internally, he was sent to the hospital’s catheterization lab, where one expert says an echocardiogram showed “significant and rapid bleeding.” Doctors decided to drain blood from his heart to prevent it from being inhibited by the accumulating fluid.
Armstrong died on August 25, 2012. At the time, his family announced that his death was caused by “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.”
Upon review of Armstrong’s care in Fairfield Hospital, experts focused on the decision by the hospital to take Armstrong to the catheterization lab when he showed signs of complications, instead of taking him directly to the operating room.
According to Dr. Joseph Bavaria, cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, the hospital’s decision to take Armstrong to the catheterization lab “was THE major error.”
Dr. Richard Salzano, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Yale Medical Center who reviewed the case for the hospital, saw the decision to bring Armstrong to the catheterization lab as “riskier than taking the patient to the O.R.” Dr. Salzano further stated that had the surgeons reopened Mr. Armstrong’s chest in the catheterization lab after the bleeding began, Armstrong may have had a 50-50 chance of survival, but that “the patient became unsalvageable on the way to the O.R.”
Mercy Health- Fairfield Hospital paid the family $6 million to settle the matter privately. Medical malpractice cases require extensive investigation, multiple experts and significant costs to pursue. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona may be able to have the records reviewed by appropriate experts and advise the client, or his or her survivors, about the risks and costs of trial, the possibility of settlement, and possible outcomes at trial.
Thanks to the Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC for their insight into personal injury claims and malpractice settlements.