You would think Neil Armstrong would receive medical care that was out of this world. However, recent investigations have revealed that the first man on the moon’s death may have been the result of incompetent post-surgical medical care by a Cincinnati hospital.

Mr Armstrong had undergone bypass surgery in early August 2012. However, when nurses removed the wires for a temporary pacemaker, he began to bleed into the membrane surrounding the heart, leading to a cascade of medical issues that resulted in his death on 25 August 2012.

The hospital defended the care, but paid the Armstrong family $6,000,000 to settle the matter privately and avoid harsh public backlash. Accordingly, the hospital insisted on keeping the complaints and the settlement private and the facts of the matter remain clouded.

However, Mr Armstrong is not alone with such negligent medical care, in the Australian case of Tinnock v Murrumbidgee Local Health District (No 6) [2017] NSWSC 1003, the Plaintiff underwent surgery for the repair of a hernia. This surgery involved the placement of a surgical mesh over the impacted area. Unfortunately, a seroma (a pocket of fluid) developed during recovery, which resulted in the plaintiff requiring further surgery with the application of a vacuum sealed internal dressing (known as a VAC dressing). A third surgery was carried out to close the abdominal cavity which accommodated the VAC dressing.

When the plaintiff was finally admitted to Calvary Hospital, a severe infection stemming from the surgical mesh and VAC dressing over the hernia dissection had developed.

Claims were brought on behalf of the Plaintiff under negligence and battery. Judgment was entered for the Plaintiff in the sum of $1,005,509 plus costs.

Both of these cases address the importance of surgeons assessing the relevant factors to the patient, in determining the precautions that should be taken to enacted to reduce the risk of post-surgical infection. This has important implications for medical specialists in relation to their duty of care and the potential to breach this duty.

Let’s hope that you don’t have to travel as far as the moon for adequate medical care. However, if you have experienced an issue with the standard of care received, our Litigation team will provide you with comprehensive advice on personal injury or medical negligence. As experts in these fields, we are uniquely placed to provide the strategic advice you need.