July 20, 2019 marked 50 years since the first man walked on the moon, solidifying Neil Armstrong as a national hero. As the world celebrated the amazing feat made by Armstrong and those aboard Apollo 11, it was uncovered that his death was caused by medical negligence and could have been avoided.
On August 25, 2012, Armstrong—an Ohio native and former professor at the University of Cincinnati—died at Mercy Health Fairfield Hospital in Ohio. The family blamed his death to complications he suffered from cardiac bypass surgery and nothing more was said about it at the time. After a proper sending off of the national hero, the world moved on.
Now, close to seven years later, investigations have uncovered that his death was due to far more than “complications.” The Cincinnati Enquirer obtained documents revealing a $6 million settlement that the Armstrong family received from Mercy Health in 2014, two years after his death, a settlement that they requested stay private.
The documents reveal that Armstrong underwent coronary bypass surgery on August 6, 2012. The family claimed that the surgery was not necessary. A doctor hired by the family to review medical records found that although Armstrong suffered from coronary disease, bypass surgery and the care that followed were below the standard of care and were fatal mistakes. In particular, the removal of lead wires from a pacemaker resulted in internal bleeding that went undetected and untreated, leading to a cascade of symptoms and ultimately death.
Mercy Health denies the allegations and insists the settlement—and the allegations—must be kept secret as part of a confidential agreement associated with the settlement. The need to keep a settlement amount is typical, as healthcare providers and insurers do not want to encourage additional suits based on past settlement values. However, the insistence on keeping the complaints themselves secret is unique and likely meant to avoid the negative publicity that would come form negligently causing the death of an American icon.