'Still a fighter': Why this woman is suing UVA for $50 million

Five years ago, Barb Tocci was working as a real estate agent in downtown Scottsville, riding horses and motorcycles on the weekends. Today, the 54-year-old woman relies on a cane to walk. She's missing two toes and a finger, and she's lost the use of her right arm.

In the Charlottesville area, widely recognized for outstanding health care– with cutting edge medical research and some of the country's leading physicians– how did this happen?

Tocci says the bulk of her injuries are the direct result of a series of medical mistakes, and the now disabled mother finds that she's been billed over $200,000 for the very treatment that she says maimed her.

Happy times
The spring of 2006 was a happy and prosperous time for Barb and Michael Tocci. James River Real Estate Associates, the firm they'd started two years earlier in downtown Scottsville, boasted numerous listings, and Barb had made five sales in three months.

"I was at the top of my game," she says.

When she wasn't meeting with clients, she was a busy mother of six children and took care of 15 goats and five horses the family kept on their 20-acre farmette just outside town. She played soccer on a coed pick-up team, taught kickboxing at the Scottsville Community Center, and was homeschooling the youngest three of her six boys, who now range in age from 10 to 27. Her active lifestyle– and income– was about to end.

Tocci says her health problems began in the summer of '06 when she agreed to do for a friend what seemed to be the simple favor of dogsitting. For two weeks, Tocci says, she went to the vacationing friend's house twice a day to feed and exercise seven Newfoundlands, massive dogs known for their thick, longhaired black coats. She noticed that one of the dogs was producing unusual stools, but says she didn't think more about it until several days later, when she developed the same intestinal symptoms and assumed she'd picked up a parasite from the canine. 

A self-described herbalist who has treated herself and her children for ailments including whooping cough and strep throat, Tocci first tried to cure herself using herbs known for alleged antiparasitic properties. But eight weeks later, with her symptoms still pronounced and having lost 20 pounds from her formerly athletic 5'4", 130lb frame, she decided to seek a specialist's attention.

"They said I was nuts," she recalls of the gastroenterology doctors who heard her theory of canine-to-human parasite transmission. It wasn't possible, they insisted, diagnosing instead a bacterial infection.

Tocci says the powerful drugs prescribed, including the antibiotic Cipro– and a subsequent colonoscopy doctors ordered to find the source of her intestinal bleeding– intensified her symptoms. She developed full blown ulcerative colitis, a serious inflammation of the intestinal tract. And things were about to get worse.

A few months later, Tocci fell on steps outside of her house, striking her side and, she believes, causing a portion of her spleen to die. The organ, which lies adjacent to the liver, plays a role in blood clotting, and soon the herbalist, who had for so many years eschewed prescription drugs, would be placed on the blood thinning drug Coumadin, which comes with its own set of possible side effects.

"It's the same chemical they use to kill rats," she notes.

After about three months on the drug, Tocci had developed a serious condition that can be a side effect of Coumadin: hematomas.

For many people, the word hematoma may conjure an image of a simple bruise, but Tocci's hematomas were anything but minor and were instead a sign that she was hemorrhaging underneath her skin. Her entire hip turned black where blood had pooled, causing tissue surrounding it– almost down to the bone– to die.

Her Martha Jefferson Hospital-affiliated vascular surgeon, who'd been treating the hematomas, referred her to UVA to have the necrotic– i.e. dead– tissue removed in a procedure called "debriding," commonly used for serious burns. Although she understood it could be painful, Tocci says, she wasn't overly worried.

"It's a simple thing, almost an outpatient thing," she says, comparing it to power washing a deck. But if her medical woes were already serious, they were about to get even worse. And this time, she claims, human error was to blame.

ER disaster
On August 3, 2007, Tocci says she was seen by UVA plastic surgeon Thomas Gampper who'd be supervising her case. He didn't think the Coumadin had caused the hematomas, Tocci says. Instead, he diagnosed a different condition: vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels that particularly affects extremities. He noted the vasculitis on her chart, Tocci says, and sent her to be admitted to the hospital for debriding.

Once she checked in, Tocci says, another physician whose identity she doesn't know directed a nurse to fit her with a device often used pre-surgery to prevent blood clots from forming. Known as SCDs, Sequential Compression Devices are sleevelike machines that rhythmically squeeze the legs from knee to ankle, improving circulation and lessening the chance of blood clots forming during surgery. Such machines are standard procedure for many preoperative patients, but according to medical consultant Courtney Thompson, hired by the Toccis to review her case, they should never be used on someone with vasculitis– the condition Tocci says Gampper diagnosed her with earlier that day.

"The patient's safety was jeopardized by placing this device on her," concludes Thompson, who notes that Virginia's "Standards of Care," guidelines that dictate a range of appropriate treatments for specific conditions, says compression devices should never be used in patients with vasculitis.

And indeed, Tocci says, she immediately felt something was wrong.

"It hurt," she says.

Frightened by his wife's reaction to a treatment he himself had  undergone, painlessly, prior to a hernia operation, Michael Tocci says he overrode the nurse by turning off the machines and went in search of assistance. Left alone in the room, Barb Tocci would soon be suffering again.

"Another nurse came in and turned the SCDs back on, even though I begged her not to," Tocci recalls. That nurse ignored Tocci's protests, Tocci says, and Tocci– unable to reach the off switch or free herself– says she lay trapped and watching in horror as her right foot turned blue. Her cries for help, she says, went unanswered until Michael returned to the room with the doctor whose name he doesn't know.

By that time, Tocci says, "I was screaming in pain." The doctor acted immediately.

"He turned them off and corrected the nurse," says Michael, who was a practicing attorney in New Hampshire before the family moved to Virginia 17 years ago and got into real estate. "Then he put a sign on Barb's bed saying 'No SCDs.'"

Unfortunately, Barb Tocci says, the damage was already done.

Over the next four months, she says, she was essentially bedridden, her left foot blackened from arch to toes, her right foot bruised. Gradually, her feet returned to their normal color as the hemorrhage allegedly caused by the compression devices was reabsorbed by her body, but two of her toes were so badly damaged they were amputated.

Her suffering wasn't over, however, and a cascade of new and even more serious medical problems began, all of which she traces to the improper use of the compression devices.

Stroke of misfortune
On Saturday, December 18, 2007, four months after the compression devices were used, Barb Tocci awoke in the middle of the night feeling dizzy. She roused her husband to tell him she wasn't feeling well.

"I was having a hard time talking," she says.

After calling their doctor, who told them dizziness and slurred speech could signal a stroke, Michael Tocci immediately drove his wife to the UVA ER, arriving at 6am.

A stroke deprives the brain of oxygen, and every second without it can increase the level of brain damage. According to guidelines put out by the American Heart Association, patients presenting symptoms of a stroke should be diagnosed and treated immediately.  That was not Tocci's experience.

While checking in, Barb says, she was asked a series of billing questions by the administrative staff as she claims her symptoms progressively worsened and she increasingly lost strength on her right side.

"By the time they were done," she says, "I couldn't walk."

After what she estimates was 15 minutes of questions and about an hour in the ER, Tocci was checked into the Intensive Care Unit, where a technician inserted an IV into the base of her hand and began a drip. Within minutes, Tocci says, her hand above the injection site began to turn blue.

"Even in my compromised state," says Tocci, "I could tell something was wrong."

It turns out that what was dripping into her hand was the steroid prednisone, an anti-inflammatory drug that is not advised for stroke treatment. Unable to speak, Tocci gestured to her husband, who, in a déjà vu moment, ran from the room to summon help. He returned with the doctor, who removed the needle and quickly began treatment with a blood thinner called heparin, which stabilized her but didn't return her lost function.

Once again, the inflammation in her blood vessels had been exacerbated, says Tocci, who says that IV needles should never be placed in extremities in those suffering from vasculitis but should instead be inserted into a larger, less fragile vein.

The stroke permanently paralyzed her right arm and deprived her of most control of her right leg. Her speech is slurred.

As for her left hand, it recovered, but the tip of her pinky finger was too damaged. After months of pain, she says, it finally "self-amputated." In other words, it fell off.

Each year, about 50 physicians from the University of Virginia Health System get named America's Top Doctors. Despite that reputation, and the family's previously positive experiences there, Michael Tocci says, he immediately believed something had gone terribly wrong with her care– but it was months before the couple put the pieces together.

"We just wanted to move on, to get her back to an active lifestyle," he says. But as the medical bills rolled in and their savings dwindled, Michael Tocci says, his anger mounted– particularly when he realized the stroke could be linked to blood clots that may have formed after use of the compression devices.

"They permanently damaged my wife through negligence," he says. "And now we're supposed to pay for it?"

To that question, UVA answered with a resounding yes, filing more than a dozen claims against the Toccis in Albemarle County General District Court. In total, Barb Tocci's care cost about $215,000, and without insurance, Michael Tocci says, the family faced financial ruin.

The Toccis aren't the only patients who've sought financial relief from the state-funded medical center for a variety of reasons.

According to Medical Center spokesperson Peter Jump, about $204 million of the $2.6 billion the hospital billed its patients in fiscal year 2010– nearly eight percent– was written off.

Jump says the Medical Center complies with a set of state-mandated guidelines in determining who should be required to pay. He says the cutoff is 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For the Toccis, who were at the time considered to be a household of five, that meant an income of about $50,000– a number they concede they exceeded at the time of treatment. But with Barb's new disabilities, Michael Tocci says, their income has decreased significantly.

Regardless, prior year tax returns were what UVA had to measure, and that meant no forgiveness. In such cases, "We expect them to pay their bills or make a suitable payment arrangement," says Jump, who declines to comment on Tocci's case citing HIPAA privacy laws and the pending lawsuit, but notes that the University frequently works with patients to establish payment plans.

Michael Tocci says he tried that, offering to pay $50,000– less than 25 percent of the total bill. UVA countered with a different offer.

"They wanted us to pay $185,000," he says.

The Toccis– who say they have already paid $70,000– declined, and in July 2009, a month before a two-year statute of limitations ran out– Barb Tocci filed a $50 million suit in Albemarle County Circuit Court, naming the Commonwealth of Virginia, University of Virginia Health System, the manufacturer of the Sequential Compression Devices, and Dr. Gampper. In addition, Tocci's suit left open the possibility of adding dozens of additional defendants, including other doctors and the nurse who reapplied the compression devices as Tocci allegedly pleaded for their removal.

Michael Tocci says he and his wife don't believe Gampper ordered the compression devices or directly caused her harm, but as the physician in charge of her care that day, they believe he is responsible.

Figuring out who to name in the suit, however, has been difficult even with the 1,500 pages of medical records they've obtained.

"Part of the problem is that they won't tell us which doctors ordered which treatments," says Michael Tocci, noting that doctors' signatures have been difficult or impossible to discern in the records.

The Toccis would quickly learn that filing a malpractice suit doesn't mean winning a suit– especially in Virginia, a state that's tamped down on malpractice litigants.

Over the past decade– with surgeons often paying more than $100,000 annually in insurance– nearly every state has implemented some type of malpractice reform aimed at reducing skyrocketing insurance premiums that in some cases were pricing doctors out of the profession. Cap advocates argue that malpractice suits raise health care costs to society by encouraging "defensive medicine" in which doctors order unnecessary tests or avoid high risk procedures to reduce the chance of a lawsuit.

Virginia limits medical damages to $2 million. In March, Governor Bob McDonnell vetoed a bill that would have raised the cap to $3 million over 20 years, citing the risk of rising costs to doctors and hospitals that might be then passed on to patients.

Attorney Tom Albro, an expert in medical malpractice unconnected to the case, notes the disparity between what litigants can receive for negligence by a medical provider compared to other professions– professions that may not have the power over life and death.

"Lawyers, architects, engineers, everyone else can be sued for as much damage as they caused without a limit," notes Albro, who won a precedent-setting case against UVA 30 years ago when he successfully argued that state physicians are not universally protected by sovereign immunity, a centuries old legal concept insulating governments from liability.

If hospitals and doctors are shielded by malpractice caps, the same is not true of manufacturers. Tocci can seek $50 million because she also names the Massachusetts-based maker of the compression devices, Covidien.

"There should have been a clear warning on the device," says Michael Tocci.

Calls to Covidien were unreturned.

Attorneys for UVA and Dr. Gampper haven't addressed the allegations in Tocci's suit, but instead have claimed in court filings that she violated several procedural requirements in waging her litigation. Gampper's attorney moved to dismiss him as a defendant based on the fact that Tocci hadn't obtained a medical expert by the statutory deadline.

"There was nothing in the complaint that stated that Dr. Gampper did anything wrong or caused any harm," says his attorney, William Archambault.

Additionally, hospital attorneys argued that the Medical Center itself, as an arm of the Commonwealth, enjoys sovereign immunity.

Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins agreed. She dismissed both Gampper and UVA Medical Center as defendants, citing the Medical Center's sovereign immunity and because Tocci had failed to properly notify the Medical Center of her intent to sue within the statute required 12 months.

While attorney Albro agrees that formal notice must be filed in such cases, Michael Tocci says he believes he met the requirement through the filing of several countersuits against UVA in which, based on alleged negligence, he objects to paying the bills.

"They knew," he says.

The Toccis– who provided the medical expert report after requesting an extension– believe the point is moot because Virginia law doesn't require a medical expert's testimony if the negligence would be apparent to a layperson, something they claim is true in this case. The Virginia Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, says Michael Tocci. "They called it premature," he says, noting the court will allow Tocci to reenter the appeal, which she plans to do.

Gampper's attorney, however, says he believes the dismissal will be upheld if the appeal is heard.

"To conclude from Dr. Gampper’s brief inclusion in Ms. Tocci’s lawsuit that he was anything but a caring and capable physician to her would not be fair," he says.

One last try

In early March, Barb Tocci sent a letter to UVA Medical Center's CEO Ed Howell, detailing her injuries and asking that he meet to discuss a settlement.

"My experience at UVA Medical Center has forever altered my life," she wrote, asking the  Center to pay her legal fees, reimburse her out-of-pocket expense, and provide rehabilitative services, which she has been unable to afford.

"I'm not trying to get rich," she says. "I just want to pick up the pieces that I have left and go on."

Howell responded in writing, she says, by referring her to the Medical Center's attorney, Richmond-based Elizabeth Muldowney, who did not return a reporter's call.

According to legal analyst David Heilberg, by fighting the case on procedural issues, UVA's attorneys are following standard operating procedure. "The university will settle a case if it's meritorious," says Heilberg, noting that there are "two sides to every story."

Tocci, however, says she believes if UVA administrators simply look at her file, they'll see the medical mistakes that resulted in her disability.

"It's so obvious," she says. "I just wish they'd do the right thing."

Sitting outside their house on a recent sunny afternoon with their youngest son, 10-year-old Myles, the Toccis survey the 20-acre property on which they've lived the past 11 years.

"This used to be the Garden of Eden," says Michael Tocci, recounting his wife's gardening skills and the physical strength that allowed her perform home repairs and mow grass with a push mower. Not anymore. The barn has gotten cluttered, the grass is overgrown, and the former kickboxing instructor now needs her husband's support just to walk outside.

"She did it all," says Michael, noting that with Barb disabled and his need to maintain a paycheck intensified by the lost income, the couple increasingly depend on their sons–- the oldest three of whom served in Iraq–- to assist with farm projects.

Married 28 years, early in their relationship the two played on a softball team where Barb was known for the power of her throwing arm and her ability to whack the ball. "They called her boom-boom," Michael Tocci recalls, smiling at his wife.

"This stroke has changed me," says Barb, recalling her previously outgoing nature. "Now," she says, gesturing with her damaged left hand, "I'm shy, reserved. I'm embarrassed." But she promises one thing hasn't changed.

"In my heart of hearts I'm still a fighter," she says. "That's the side of me they're going to see." And, uphill battle or not, she believes she'll find 12 allies if her case reaches trial.

"If a jury hears my story," she says, "it's all over."

Clarification: One of the photo captions above was changed to reflect that Barb Tocci doesn't ascribe sole blame for her injuries on the sequential compression devices.–ed.


it is amazing in this day and age that you cannot accept a certifed letter from the post office without printing your name next to your signature but a doctor can order whatever he wants with a scribble.


Good for the Tocci family. My decades long experience with UVA
has been overwhelmingly negative with multiple minor and
major screwups and an amazing lack of compassion, interest,
knowledge, honesty, and continuity in care. Many others would agree.

Statue of limitations, what a crock. The state doesnt have a statue of limitations when it wants to charge someone. Their statue of limitations starts when they figure out who commited the act.

A real puzzle- dog owner obviously does feel responsible, person treats herself for years and after this incident, falls hits her head, blames everyone else...come on UVa PAY UP!!!!!

Why wait 8 weeks to seek medical treatment if what you are doing isn't working. And if you have a nice home, job and children then medical insurance should be on the list.

I hope this woman gets everything shes ask for.Ive had some reconstructive surgery experince at UVA and they were by far sub par thats why now i goto Johns Hopkins to get fixed what they made worse.Its a shame there allowed to hide behind the state.They want you to be finically responsable yet when they screw up this bad they still sue you and there immune from behing held accountable.

Being as kind as possible, UVA medical center is most interested in the bottom line to the detriment of its patients and employees.

Missed statue of limitation parameters could be overcome due to incapicated state caused by health issues . Doesn't look like the time frames were missed by much . Certification of medical icapacity to conduct one's affairs during the missed period should be sufficient to ante date the suit filing date .

Perhaps we should put that statue of limitations on the downtown mall in place of that clock....?

If only there were some sort of STATUTE of limitations.....

"Statue" of limitations? Can any of you people read or understand the English language? I actually heard an educated adult say "I resemble that remark," instead of "resent." What is happening to this country?

Sorry for the sp mistake, your witty put downs are neat though .Don't worry about your country ,i am not in it so , therefore, didn't get my poor spelling habits there . I am ,however, multi lingual beyond English ...

This story makes no sense.

First, she can afford horses and motorcycles, yet the Hook makes no reference to health insurance in this hatchet piece. I think she is part of the gambling masses who choose to spend their income on frivolous luxuries and not health insurance. She lost that gamble when she got sick, and she should pay for the health resources she consumed.

Second, her medical argument is, at best, garbage. Let's not forget that she's a self-described "herbalist." Herbalist is just another term for a hippie who doesn't follow science. The claims about the compression devices similarly make no sense. They are widely used and I doubt there is any scientific evidence supporting her odd claim that they caused a stroke. Check the scientific literature, I'll wait.

Her stroke is unfortunate and I wish her a full recovery; however, I cannot believe the commenters are supporting this blatant money grab. That $50m comes from somewhere, and it comes from the consumers who pay for correct use of these medical devices. How dare everyone blame the company that produces products to improve our health and celebrate this woman who is trying to get rich by demanding an obscene sum by screaming negligence when there is no basis. Shame on all of you.

NICOLE. People who have a spelling fetish bug me.
If you cannot see that the comments made by FrankSpeaker were very intelligent, but get stuck on the form of his writing, you are the one displaying true idiocy....my 2 cents on an undiscerning pattern of behavior observed in pseudo-intellectuals...
Sorry,I cannot be as understanding as Frankspeaker
(A franco-american speaker of 5 languages.)

George Bush's fault for sure.......

can't sue yourself- check!

dog owner has no mnaye- check!

UVa has money- check!

Attorney needs money- check!

dog owner has no money- check!

Everyone makes mistakes and many have been make by all in this case . When a person loses their health they loose everything . I understand that health insurance is very expensive and extensive medical treatment is beyond the means of most . Law suits just add more dysfunction into the mix . Many jurisdictions during the last fifty years have instituted a fair and common sense system of universal health care and unemployment insurance for medical reasons . If gives a chance for a person to get medical problems cured and some income while ill . They can get back on their feet medically and financially resuming a normal life . These measures and programs are far cheaper than being faced with getting sick ,no income,devastating health bills,loosing hard earned assets,bankruptcy,divorce and yes premature demise ......

Degreed, licensed doctors employed by a state government owned hospital.

Result? Patients lives ruined.

CitizenQ I could not agree more. Whatever ailments this woman suffered are not the fault of UVa hospital employees. And she's an "herbalist?" Really, an "herbalist?" Come on, you sniff dog poop, get ill, eat magical "herbs known for alleged antiparasitic properties" then expect to get better? This is ridiculous. I just pity this woman's poor children who were "treated" for whooping cough...

So we sue/ask for the equivelent of having the most expensive house in Albemarle (Mrs. Kluge's Albemarle house of 16 million) and an extra 34 million beyond that and at the same time we argue against have any law suit caps and take the case and try it in the press in the same area where a jury pool has not been chosen yet?

I am almost speechless. First, lets point out The Hook's INFLAMMATORY tone on the medical profession, in general. Coumadin may well be a component of rat poison, but it also a miracle life saving drug for hundreds of thousands of people who take it daily with little to no complications. Second, they had the money to afford themselves a large home, with horses, a lush garden, etc, but no health insurance? Hindsight is 20/20. I wonder how much of this lawsuit we would be reading about if they had insurance to help cover their monetary losses.
I am in complete agreement with Citizen Q and FrankSpeaker.

Undoubtedly what happened to this woman is deeply unfortunate, but the quality of this article is so appallingly poor that it is literally impossible to tell what happened to this woman and if it was the result of medical mismanagement or just bad luck. A couple egregious errors:

1. Prednisone is a medication which comes only in an oral formulation. You cannot get prednisone through an IV, though there are other steroids which can be administered intravenously.

2. Strokes can only be caused by blood clots in the legs if a person also has a heart defect, and we are not told if she in fact has such a defect.

3. The spleen does not control clotting in the body. Maybe you were thinking of the liver?

4. "Vaculitis" is not a single condition but a class of conditions, only some of which preferentially affect the extremities. Other forms of vasculitis can cause symptoms similar to a stroke, so the patient's actual diagnosis in this case would be a highly relevant detail.

5. Ulcerative colitis is not caused by ciprofloxacin or colonoscopies.

This was an extremely poor, sensationalized effort by Ms Stuart. Shame on The Hook for publishing nonsense like this without bothering with even the rudiments of fact checking. This level of journalistic malpractice approaches libel.

the best is when she self diagnosed a dead internal organ based on a fall hahahah

Give me a break. This has to be a joke (both the article and the lawsuit).

They decided to sue UVA for negligence AFTER they couldn't come to an agreement about a discount for the services that had already been provided??? What does that tell you?? They are trying to weasel out of their financial responsibilities by claiming bad care. Sorry, not buying it. I agree with other comments here - they had a good income and because she didn't believe in standard medical care, they decided to spend their money on things other than health insurance. That was their choice, and the taxpayers or other patients should not reward her by paying for her medical care.
And what is an "herbalist" anyway? Somebody who smokes pot? And what "herbs" was she using in the weeks before her stroke? Just because something is "herbal" or "natural" doesn't mean it is benign. Maybe all the impure and unregulated herbs she put in her body caused her stroke and other medical problems. Was she getting her blood levels checked regularly while she was on Coumadin? Too many unanswered questions to decide this is solely due to medical negligence. That will be for a jury to decide. It certainly isn't clear from what is written here in the article that her suit will be a slam dunk. I hope she at least had enough sense to hire an attorney on a contingency basis, or she will be out the legal fees too. And if their finances are in such dire straights, maybe they should think about moving to a smaller property.

I'M SHOCKED!!! UVA docs made a mistake? UVA is a teaching hospital. Docs injure, maim and kill patients with alarming regularity...in particular resident doctors in training. Pay attention to the parts of the story where doctors on TWO occasions TERMINATED the wrong treatments. We were part of the UVA "family" and knew of mistakes that were committed all over the hospital spread throughout all of the departments.....IT HAPPENS. .....When it does, the hospital should admit the mistake and take care to correct or deal with it. That is the most recent conclusion on avoiding litigation.....admit a mistake at the time it is made and it yields FEWER lawsuits. Doctors make mistakes, so do mechanics, builders, etc. But when docs make mistakes, the results maim and kill.

The Toccis suffered medical malpractice. The extent of the damages are clear. UVA needs to do the right thing and attempt to remedy that malpractice. UVA benefits from the "slave labor" of its residents. This is one time where a resident may be responsible and/or UVA can pony up some of the profits from it's cheap physician in training labor.

(btw.....supoena the physician schedules for the times that Barb was being treated. If UVA won't ID the doctors who gave the orders, name ALL OF THE DOCTORS ON THE SCHEDULE.....That will get UVA to ID the docs responsible....the other docs won't stand for it!)


It is no secret that the residents work long hours, it is the way it has been for decades (and yes, it doesn't make it right). HOWEVER, anyone entering the medical field knows this going in. If you don't want to do this, don't become a doctor. If you don't want to endure this, don't date/marry a medical student, resident, fellow, etc.

And yes, they should have had insurance. If you take the gamble, you need to pay.

People who try to sound more intelligent than they are bother ME.
My point is, he is trying to have an valid argument on a topic, and doesn't bother to use proper wording. Now go back to being (let me guess.....) a 40 year old "grad student."

"UVA is a teaching hospital. Docs injure, maim and kill patients with alarming regularity...in particular resident doctors in training. "

I would be interested to know what the data on docs and nurses at UVA doing what you claim is ?

REALLY.......Been there done that. We paid the price. It was hell. But we are in the "know" now. While don't you concur on the level of malpractice that takes place not only at UVA, but AT ALL HOSPITALS. Docs are not perfect. But when they make mistakes (or their staffs) it causes pain, suffering, long term injuries and in some cases death.

NANCYDREW..... Hospitals are dangerous places. Teaching hospitals both have the best Attending doctors AND brand new "doctors" in training. During our years at UVA, the stories of screw ups by residents were many. In most cases not a big deal. In some, probably caused deaths/maimings. ALL hospitals are places where mistakes are made.

And Nancy, they don't have public records of "medmal" cases which the hospitals look at internally. Whne a doc "screws the pouch," when it is noticed, it is usually reviewed. But the hospitals don't post those stats on the front door.

Worked at UVa. saw some bad stuff and good stuff.................real issues with communication in that hospital, almost a feeling of entitlement by employess sometimes. Do a trial on your own some time, call up a clinic, any clinic and try to schedule an appointment, just notice the attitude, not all departments, but a majority......it's like they do you a favor by answering the phone, seriously, it amazes me. The system is flawed, yes a teaching hospital, yes we need teaching hospitals, but I could write a book of "bad" stuff that I've witnessed in my time there. Yes it is called practicing medicine, but doesn't the saying go: Practice makes perfect.......................

There must be some statistics on how many medical errors occur at UVA, and their nature, and how they compare to other teaching hospitals. I would be interested in any information that someone could direct me to. Thanks

Nicole --- Being snooty about a person's spelling etc while you are commiting the same mistakes is very funny ....

I don't recall addressing you in my last comment.

Nicole ( I am adressing YOU ) ....You are far off the topic at hand here ... Just a red herring doing what bothers YOURSELF ...Trying to sound more intelligent than you actually are ....

I would love to know what "herbs: she took PLUS she cured whopping cough? That must be a medical miracle - never saw herbs that can do that. These herbalists or alternative medicine individuals make multiple errors too and false promises and "cures". Dietary supplements are poorly regulated, due to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994. I hope they review all her supplements because that may be her original cause. Plus ulcerative colitis - was that a diagnosis she came up with - does she understand how you get it? Very poorly done piece!!!

I hope she also realizes that in most cases, she and her family plus the lawyers and their families will not be allowed to see Physicians associated with UVA. She can be refused non-life threatening treatment.

What a disgrace: frivolous lawsuits have apparently been elevated to the status of front page news. This has to be in the running for the worst article ever to run in a local paper; it was truly painful to read. Not only does it contain a laughable amount of medical misinformation, it also naively champions the cause of a relatively wealthy opportunist and her very wealthy (and sleazy) lawyer in their efforts to become wealthier still at the expense of all Virginia taxpayers. Citing the plaintiff's opinions as those of a sort of "medical expert" due to her past interest in herbal supplements was particularly grating.

If Tocci is correct in her ridiculous assertion that she'll win a jury trial, then I fear for the future of our society. Citizen Q and Patrick both hit the nail squarely on the head, and I thank them for preserving a glimmer of hope that we haven't collectively "lost it."

Sadly, it may be settled out of court for a small amount just to make "her" go away.

Self described herbalists are always difficult to treat; you never know what or how much they take or how long they have waited to seek treatment, and they usually don't want to share their methods with medical doctors and don't want to stop self-medicating after starting their prescriptions. Not a good idea.

I've been on coumadin for a long time, fortunately with no side effects. But my doctors and nurses regularly check my blood, ask questions about diet and any missed doses (which I never have), and as soon as there are any unexplained results change my regimen accordingly. A patient has to report anything that is slightly questionable immediately. I've seen doctors both at Martha Jefferson and UVA, and they have been completely competent, thorough, and attentive. The patient simply must pay attention to every bit of literature available regarding possible side effects of medication and be completely honest with their physician.

Furthermore, if you lose confidence in your physician, find another immediately. The fact that your insurance might not cover you is no excuse. Your health is far more important.

Here's an idea. When you are sick, go see a doctor. Don't treat yourself with St Johns Wart or some other BS.

This lawsuit should be thrown out.

Frank Speaker:
Stop bothering me. I am allowed to comment of what I see/hear/read, as are you. Now leave me alone.

Nicole -- Again you contradict yourself . You were not commenting on the article but trying to be a snooty nusiance about another person's method of presenting their ideas, namely mine .I am only rebutting your nonsense in a point in order . It is rich that you claim to be bothered while hypocritaly doing that which you say bothers yourself .Don't you have any ideas about this ladies plight, the medical system,methods of payment,state vs private coverage,merits of her case,UVA,currant and proposed legislation, etc etc . If you are so content on commenting on issues then why not do so rather than try to protray yourself more intelligent than you actually are by taking cheap shots at those posting here in good faith ?

In the mad rush to condemn homeopathic medicine (an issue that is irrelevant since Mrs. Tocci put her trust in the UVa Medical Center and modern medicine, so I'm not sure why it was even mentioned in the article) some of you have overlooked the heart of the issue, which is the numerous instances of misdiagnosis, negligence and malpractice which are being alleged to have occurred.

The suit isn't about whether homeopathic medicine is better than modern medicine; it concerns the hospital's practice of modern medicine and also the duty of medical equipment companies to properly label equipment so that it is not used in an improper fashion.

Regarding the amount being sued for, it would ultimately be up to a jury to award a suitable amount. Why would anyone sue for less than they can? That would be like saying "I'm serious about this suit, but really not that serious."

P., homeopathy is an issue because she tried to heal herself for 2 months using her own remedies before seeking professional help. Who knows how detrimental that was to her case? Also, as someone mentioned, how do we know she stopped her own treatment after going to the hospital. If she didn't, how did that affect what her doctors were prescribing?

She says it isn't a money grab but that is exactly what it is. She didn't have insurance, thought she could cure herself, and, now that she is being asked to pay, decided to sue.

Frank Speaker:
It's "current", not "currant."

Frank Speaker:
Also, I'm "intent" on commenting, not "content on commenting." Post in good faith, by try to sound educated.

ooops...."but" try to sound educated. See, I can admit when I mess up.

I haven't been able revisit this time of my life until recently. It was too painful, to scary to ponder. But lately, I've come to the realization that I'm truly on the other side of this long and painful ordeal.

It all started when I took care of my friend's 6 Newfoundland dogs. I picked up some kind of nasty parasite that caused me to have "the trots" for eight weeks, at the end of which time I had lost about 20 lbs. I tried everything herbal, but nothing seemed to work. (If I had to do it over I would have stuck with the herbal "big guns" I just didn't give it enough time.) But I went to a GI specialist, and he prescribed two rounds of Cipro, a heavy hitter in the pharmaceutical arsenal. But this only aggravated my symptoms more.

I was on a liquid diet for UC, but I continued to lose more weight. Then my spleen wanted to get in on the action and it infarcted 2 times on separate occasions. More pain: A LOT more. So they gave me blood thinners. The kind they give rats to kill them.

I was supposed to be monitored at least once a week, but they didn't want to do that. They didn't think I needed that. So I bled out through my skin. Wounds appeared all over my body. The worst of these was 9" by 7" hematoma on my lower hip that reach nearly down to the bone. It was almost healed, but then three weeks later it blew out again.

I didn't want to turn the other "cheek" but unfortunately I did and another hematoma surface on the other side. Not as bad as the first, but talk about pain... It was unbelievable!

So I went to the hospital (again) for the wound to be debrided, and that when the fun began.

They put compression wraps (the kind that fill with air and then let go) on my legs. The problem was I had a condition called "vasculitis" which is a counter-indicated for using the wraps. Immediately my legs began hurt, so Michael, my husband, ran to get the nurse to take them off. Enter next shift: Against my protests, they put them on again, and my toes went black. I was in so much pain, that Michael then went to find the Docter, who said, "You never put those on a patient who has vasculitis!" So the Doctor then put a sign on my bed to stop anyone else who wanted to play nurse.

But the damage was done and the two toes were dead. And after about four months of more pain, they finally removed my toes, which took 8 weeks to heal.

Then they found the clots, which they presumed were from the compression wraps in my legs. So they installed an IVC in my artery to keep any clots from causing trouble.

Then a doctor gave me a medicine (Amicar) which caused "smatter clots" to hit my brain. It was not her fault , she was doing the best she could given the circumstances.

One morning three weeks after beginning the course of Amicar, I woke up, stroking. My husband drove me to the ER, where they gave me the WRONG meds for an hour after making me answer administrative questions for 15 minutes. (Time lost is brain lost.)

While I was in the ER, a nurse put the IV in my hand, which later Dr. B--- told us it should only ever be put in the groin of patients who suffer from vasculitis. Within minutes of the IV's insertion, my hand started to go black. They applied nitroglycerin and most of my hand recovered, but part of my pinky finger, just below the nail, died.

It took 4 months for the surgeon to agree to remove the tip during which time I was in and out of the hospital for the pain.

This is short version.

What is in question is not herbs, not my lifestyle, my second hand motorcycle, or my $300 dollar horse but that the procedures in the hospital almost led to my demise, and have dramatically altered my life.

A story of incompetence, negligence, malpractice is what I hope to bring before a jury of my peers.

Water is sometimes used to drown rats. Might want to stop drinking that too.

My family and I have had some very negative experiences with UVa hosp.
They almost killed my mother; Misdiagnosed my husband (in a harmful manner) and have attempted to make numerous, and serious mistakes with my own health.
On two separate occasions, if it were not for the fact that *I* knew better and stopped them, I would have been very badly harmed and in one instance, dead.
The only people who may have anything positive to say about this arrogant, mediocre 'band-aid and aspirin' outfit have either, a: never been 'treated' there, or b: are a part of the UVa machine.
I feel sorry to say that I am not at all surprised that the Tucci's were met with defensive and uncaring attitudes from UVa after the fact.
I am always shocked though when I read something locally stating that they are 'some of the best Dr.'s'...Where is it written? Of all the specialists and treatment locations that can be looked up when searching for 'the Top 100' medically for ANYTHING, UVa does not even show up on the radar screen for treating acne!
Also, for the most part, they have a pretty high turnover when compared to some truly good hospitals and medical facilities.
As for the 'posts' that are taking aim at the Tucci's: Our family have already had the experience of either contacting a Dr. or being in the ER IMMEDIATELY when something went wrong...and ultimately been told 'everything's fine...just fine', when it was anything but.

"wow, just wow"...When I was first informed there was an article written that had shown UVa in a less than flattering light, I immediately said, "well, I'm sure it's not in the DP..where is it, The Hook?"
{They} are the only ones with the 'stones' to share this story. Perhaps they have one of the few businesses not planted on UVa owned soil.

Barbara -- You have been through a lot and i agree the story should invoke compassion from the Administration or legal system . Statute of limitations are essentially guidelines that can be overcome if one can show inability to comply due to reasons beyond your own control .You are not covered by a public funded medical program and hence didn't have access to universal illness prevention and medical coverage . Notwithstanding the merits of herbal self treatment Using them in that situation is understandable . I wish you good luck in getting the financial issues resolved and wish you much better health going forward . People shouldn't be burdened with health related catastrophic financial while also dealing with treatment and recovery ..........................................( now over to the Spelling Nazi LOL )

Urban Dictionary ---SPELLING NAZI ---"one who freaks out when a little spelling mistake has occured or has been a constant little asshole about it"

Google "human rights scientific honesty" and see what else UVA hospital has been up to. If our URL traffic is any indication, they are becoming internationally famous!

And people wonder why there is not peaceful coexistence in the world today.
We are (should be) discussing a weighty subject and there are people on here arguing over semantics.
Perhaps UVa has a medical study regarding OCD and control issues.

Google "Sean Cannan" and see who else is becoming internationally famous for being an annoying twit. He's a regular commenter at the Cavalier Daily, where his feeble attempts at stirring things up are routinely dismissed by his intellectual superiors. It's laughable really, with a note of sadness though all things considered since he disproves the notion that hard work eventually leads to success.

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as IV prednisone.

The brand name is Medrol, and the generic name is prednisolone.

Prednisolone is so close to being chemically-identical to prednisone (according to my doctors), that when I left the hospital on IV Medrol, went home on a prescription of oral prednisone, and ended up back in the hospital because my body would not respond to the oral form, I was unjustly accused of not taking my medication, because I had done so well on the intravenous form when in hospital.

I am not a doctor. But someone's not got the answer to whether prednisone = prednisolone. Whether it's my doctors or this Patrick guy who's posting on this forum, that I can't tell you.

I work at UVA and while I have a deep understanding of the pain that this woman and her family are going through and hope that her life is able to return to some normalcy, when I read this all I see is a bunch of lessons for everyone to learn from, not a rock solid court case. Healthcare is a complicated issue, nothing is clearcut, biggest thing to learn: take care of yourself, fight to stay healthy.

First: Take care of yourself, if you feel sick and are losing 20lbs because you are sick. Seek medical help. Only take herbal remedies if you know they are going to work and work fast. Be knowledgeable about your health and body and do everything you can to stay well.

2nd: When you walk into a hospital, you are putting yourself in there hands and there are numerous side effects that can occur when the medical team is trying their best to treat your signs/symptoms or diagnose your problem. *GO TO HOSPITAL COMPARE* if you want to find the best hospital in the world. But guess what, all of you if you get real sick with go to UVA if you live in the near vicinity. Yea, they have yound doctors. So does every other big hospital in the U.S. That's what our healthcare system is based on. You want a good doctor, he/she has to be trained.

3rd: When someone has no health insurance and ends up with big medical bills, all of us WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE who do have insurance end up paying higher premiums and absorb the costs. I don't feel bad for people who could have afforded health insurance and didn't get it, lesson learned. Get coverage, get it now.

4th: When you walk into those hospital doors and you want their help, you should pay for it. I don't go see a realtor and then when my house closing doesn't go the way I want it to, just say, sorry, you didn't do it right so no $$.

5th: Know what medications you are taking and why, know the side effects, know to get things checked out if you are bleeding all over your body. You are the one who is taking those pills, you choose to do that.

Sorry, I just don't see how the dots align to UVA owing 50 million. Make what uneducated judgements you want, but there aren't enough facts to assume either party is right, just hope you don't get sick.

*FYI: Coumadin, prednisone, cipro are all very commonly used drugs. The compression devices are used on almost every patient in the hospital. IV's are commonly placed in hands. Everything reported here isn't out of the ordinary, very common scenario's.

In Virginia the law is when you file a med mal claim with the Court you have to already have a board certified medical Doctor agree with everything you are claiming negligent in your Complaint before you file. The first thing the Defendants will ask for is have you done this. If you have filed all these negligent claims without a Dr. agreeing to every one of the negligent claims the whole case will be thrown out. Since its being tried in the press instead of the Court, who is the certified medical M.D. that agrees with every negligent Complaint?

LOL @ Frank Speaker & Nicole. I knew it was just a matter of time before this thread went "Godwin".

Nicole "I resemble that remark," instead of "resent" is a joke, a play on words if you will, I use it often. Maybe it was me that you heard say it? If you got down off your high horse and walked among us commoners you might know that

I agree there one to many silly lawsuits, however there are those that are nessecary in order to hold neglectful people responsible for their actions, and raise the bar of medical standards! My wish id that the medical standards bar would raise as fast as science and tech. grows. But in my experience as a nurse that is not the case with most docs! They want us to take the drugs in which they hold stock in the companies but do not to be responsible when they have made the wrong choice based solely on their bottom line or that of the medical center they represent! I know this to be a fact and have watched it happen for years! I wish the Tocci family all the luck in the world !

I agree there one to many silly lawsuits, however there are those that are nessecary in order to hold neglectful people responsible for their actions, and raise the bar of medical standards! My wish id that the medical standards bar would raise as fast as science and tech. grows. But in my experience as a nurse that is not the case with most docs! They want us to take the drugs in which they hold stock in the companies but do not to be responsible when they have made the wrong choice based solely on their bottom line or that of the medical center they represent! I know this to be a fact and have watched it happen for years! I wish the Tocci family all the luck in the world !

I agree there one to many silly lawsuits, however there are those that are nessecary in order to hold neglectful people responsible for their actions, and raise the bar of medical standards! My wish id that the medical standards bar would raise as fast as science and tech. grows. But in my experience as a nurse that is not the case with most docs! They want us to take the drugs in which they hold stock in the companies but do not to be responsible when they have made the wrong choice based solely on their bottom line or that of the medical center they represent! I know this to be a fact and have watched it happen for years! I wish the Tocci family all the luck in the world !

Barbara - why are you trying this in the press?

Va Code 8.01-20.1 (defendant can request certification before the suit going any further & 8.01-581.20 (not worded exactly like this but close) The Plaintiff has to certify, prior to serving the lawsuit, that a board certified MD has looked at the med records and has issued a written opinion that X (being sued) deviated from the standard of care. (A bad result is not proof that the standard of care or the normal medical procedures to a problem were not followed.) (And that is the first thing Def's will ask for)

Amazing that UVA & docs don't sue for unsubstantiated comments to the press. They may have a better case. Perhaps they care more for patients than money.
Lots of "fact expansion" or "loss of inconvenient facts" in the comments.
What happened was unfortunate, but there's clearly a lack of self-ownership for bad decisions (from long self-treatment to returning to a hospital that the subject felt made mistakes).
Lots of axes being ground here, lots of baggage attached to many comments. Little to do with this article.

A $300 horse? Strains credibility. $300 per month, per week or daily is believable. An attempt to manipulate our perceptions or extremely poor money management skills? How many more of these "facts" are so slanted?

Barbara: please sign a release so that UVA and the physicians can tell their side of this story. It's not fair their hands are tied by law while you get to say anything. Transparency, fair and balanced reporting and all that.

"'Still a fighter': Why this woman is suing UVA for $50 million"
Umm...because studies show that a majority of people WOULD like to have 50 million dollars!