Neil Armstrong's Death May Have Been A Horrible Mistake

Neil Armstrong, the first person to step foot on the Moon, died in 2012 at the age of 82 and had his cremated remains buried at sea shortly after (via A report published in the New York Times in July of 2019 found that Neil Armstrong's family received a secret settlement for a wrongful-death-and-survivor claim from the Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital in 2014, two years after he died after undergoing an emergency bypass surgery. The evidence outlined in the report suggests that a medical error may have caused Armstrong's death following his surgery.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that medical errors may account for up to 251,000 deaths per year in the United States, making medical errors the third leading cause of death, so it is not out of the question that a doctor's mistake could have contributed to Armstrong's death (via the National Library of Medicine). But what exactly happened during his surgery and the week leading up to his death that caused the hospital to pay the settlement? Did the famous astronaut really die from a horrible mistake in the operating room? The evidence certainly seems to show this to be true.

Armstrong may have received improper post-surgical care

In 2012, Neil Armstrong underwent an emergency bypass surgery at Fairfield Hospital. During the surgery, doctors implanted temporary wires to help Armstrong's heart function properly. When the wires were removed by nurses later, Armstrong began to bleed internally and had a significant drop in blood pressure. Once the staff noticed is extremely low blood pressure, they took action. It was at this point that the choices made by medical staff took a wrong turn.

Experts reviewing his surgery during the 2014 settlement noted that Armstrong was taken to the catheterization lab when his blood pressure dropped, and then to the operating room. According to Ashish Jha, K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, "If someone has dropped their blood pressure substantially and this is a code blue, that means they are having life-threatening bleeding. I don't totally understand why they went to the cath lab." Jha also mentioned that he felt that Armstrong's death was entirely preventable based on the evidence from the case (via Harvard).

His family received a confidential settlement of $6 million

The Fairfield Hospital ended up closing the wrongful-death-and-survivor claim privately with a settlement of $6 million to Neil Armstrong's family. Since his death in 2012, Armstrong's sons have continued to stand firm in their belief that it was incompetence on the part of the healthcare workers involved in Armstrong's surgery and post-surgical care that caused his death after his bypass surgery. His wife, Carol Armstrong, stated that her husband was doing well following his surgery until complications with the wires that led to the internal bleeding occurred (via

It turns out that the wrongful-death-and-survivor claim began with a letter sent to the hospital's legal team by Wendy Armstrong, lawyer and wife of Neil Armstrong's son, Mark. The family planned to announce the cause of Armstrong's death publicly if the hospital did not agree to a settlement. It wasn't until the 2019 Times report, when an anonymous source submitted documents regarding the legal case, that the public found out the role the hospital played in Armstrong's death.

Armstrong's family was not allowed to discuss certain information about the case

To avoid bad press, Fairfield Hospital set up several legal barriers to prevent the case surrounding Neil Armstrong's death from becoming public. According to the New York Times Report, Bertha G. Helmick, the representative of Armstrong's grandchildren during the case, has stated that if the entire settlement were to become public, his grandchildren could risk having their funds taken away. The anonymous source that gave The Times the statement did not release the entire settlement, so the grandchildren have been able to keep their portions even after the case became public.

As part of the settlement agreement, the hospital also used a pseudonym for Neil Armstrong. This false name, Ned Anderson, was designed to further prevent the hospital from being remembered for possibly causing Armstrong's death. The family members involved in the case have also signed non-disclosure agreements that have prevented them from discussing the case publicly, so they have not been able to comment on The Times report since it came to light in 2019. Despite the Fairfield Hospital's best efforts, the case has still been made public, even if some details have not be released and may never be.