Can you die from a tattoo? You betcha.

I never looked very closely at the literature since getting tattoos on your body is against Jewish law. I remember from Jewish Religious school when I was quite young, having it reamed into y poor little noggin along with a bunch of other stuff, that when God came for the resurrection of the flesh, not only was it a really good idea that you had a little bit of earth from the land of Israel in your pocket (in Boston, tiny sacks of such alleged origin were overpriced at best) but there had to be no, absolutely no, placed-there-on-purpose marks on your body. It would be really bad because you wanted God to know you were the right (strictly Kosher) Jewish body.

Somehow, it seemed to be possible to get by with a scar. I figured it was because if you had an accident, an omniscient God would know about it anyway.

Post-tattoo deaths are most likely infection related. It would have to be a fairly severe one to cause death so soon after tattoo.

I remember when I was doing surgery, memorizing a list of complications and how long after the surgery they would be most likely to occur. Anything that got someone so close after the fact–tattoo or surgery — would have to be a lollapalooza of an infection.

We had a similar situation in Sacramento, close to home. The victim had a heart murmur. (“Hole in heart,” congenital). Those folks are generally covered with antibiotics for the most minor of procedures, dental procedures and such. I would have hoped the victim knew something about this then again, the person who wrote the article was right — that hairdressers are trained far more than tattoo artists.

Know what you got, and be suspicious. Personally, I think everyone who goes for a tattoo should sign an informed consent, which would show an aged tattoo bearer, whose body has thoroughly sagged and disfigured the original art. But this is only wishful thinking — I have never seen a tattoo informed consent.

I am hearing now more often than ever of people who hear the informed consent for surgery and say “no way.” Death is possible with general anesthesia, even if it were always done perfectly.

Is this the one loophole where the legal profession has failed to rush in and dominate?

Maybe this is because not enough people have died from tribal ritual. After all, at a casual glance, getting a tattoo might not seem so bad. It’s nearly an American tradition that getting “tats” allows adolescents to test parental limits and drunken servicemen to test just how drunk they are, measuring by how far awry their judgment has gone.

Many of the favored images for tattooing are those of death — skulls, angels and such. People seem to want to show others a fearlessness of death by permanently etching such symbols on various body parts..

Perhaps the procedure itself makes people waltz with death in ways which they have not closely considered.

If you want a tattoo, think hard first.

Author's Bio: 

Estelle Toby Goldstein, M.D. is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is licensed to practice in the state of California. She holds a valid license from the DEA to write prescriptions, but is an expert in nutritional therapies involving vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other cutting-edge treatments.

A native of Boston, she graduated from medical school in France, and after returning the US, did her internship in general surgery and residencies in neurosurgery and psychiatry. She has also done fellowships in neurology in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and psychopharmacology at the University of Kansas, Wichita.

She calls her current practice “Natural Alternative Mind-Body Medicine” and chiefly concentrates on transitioning patients away from prescription drugs and onto natural substances. She is also a master practitioner of Emotional Freedom Technique, a powerful and dynamic form of energy psychology that usually brings quicker results than traditional psychotherapy.

A proud veteran, she has served as psychiatrist to the 82nd Airborne in Ft. Bragg, NC while in the U.S. Army and worked in the VA Hospital system in several states.

After her Army service, she held faculty posts in both University of Kansas and University of Oklahoma schools of medicine.

Dr. Goldstein is in demand as a public speaker and a media guest, and has written an advice column in a major market daily newspaper and hosted a weekly call-in radio show on one of the national networks. She now lives in the Napa Valley of Northern California with her husband and business partner, Wade B. Ward.