“Presidential Little-known, Medicine-related Interesting Facts: Number Three”

Presidential history is filled with fascinating little-known facts. President James Garfield’s death has been characterized as an assassination by some and as the result of medical malpractice by others. President Garfield was in office less than 4 months when he was shot by Charles Julius Guiteau, in 1881. One bullet exited his body and another lodged in his chest. At the scene, a dozen doctors inserted their fingers and instruments into the wounds, and Garfield died 80 days later from infection and blood poisoning. Guiteau, the shooter, reportedly said, “Yes, I shot him, but his doctors killed him.” President Richard Nixon was hospitalized for phlebitis while under a court subpoena. In October 1974, President Nixon was diagnosed with phlebitis, a circulatory problem that develops when a blood clot slows the circulation in a vein. His doctors recommended surgery after discovering a large blood clot in his thigh. Nixon was reluctant to undergo the surgery that doctors recommended, but was finally swayed when they told him he might die without it. Surgeons attached a plastic clip to a vein in his groin area to prevent clots from passing to his upper body. At the time, Nixon was under subpoena to appear at the trial of former aides involved in the Watergate scandal.

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