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Medical malpractice: Neil Armstrong's family settles claim -- $6M

Most New Yorkers trust doctors with their lives because of their extensive training and the Hippocratic Oath physicians must take. Unfortunately, that trust is sometimes misplaced and keeps many people from asking questions or expressing their concerns about medical procedures or treatment. The medical malpractice claim that followed the death of an American icon underscores the importance of patients being fully informed of their choices and the potential outcomes of proposed surgical procedures.

During the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon, it was reported that the hospital that cared for Neil Armstrong after the removal of a temporary pacemaker secretly agreed to pay a settlement to the famous astronaut's family. Private negotiations led to a $6 million wrongful death settlement. The family alleged that the need for the pacemaker followed premature heart bypass surgery, and negligence during its removal caused internal bleeding that led to Armstrong's death.

For fear of offending physicians, some patients avoid seeking a second opinion. They are also entitled to full disclosure prior to surgery. Doctors must provide information about all the available treatment options and the potential consequences of refusing treatment. Ultimately, the treatment can only proceed after the patient has given informed consent.

This is a complicated field of the law that is best dealt with by an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney. Patients and/or their families typically have problems obtaining vital medical records and other important evidence. A lawyer will have easier access to the documents that are necessary to prove negligence. With the support and guidance of legal counsel, the patient or the surviving family members of a deceased victim could achieve full financial reimbursement for documented monetary damages incurred due to medical mistakes.

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