Good thing Stuart's not more widely read
I've read your publication since I was a UVA undergrad, and I've never before felt compelled to comment, but the piece written by Ms. Stuart [May 3 cover story: "'Still a fighter': Why this woman is suing UVA for $50 million"] was a sensationalized, irresponsible example of yellow journalism.
It doesn't appear that Stuart consulted a medical professional when drafting her piece, as they would have mentioned that vasculitis– inflammation of blood vessels in the body and the illness with which Mrs. Tocci was diagnosed– is well-known to cause colitis, clot-formation, ischemia, and stroke. While I am unable to comment on Mrs. Tocci's course or any actions taken by UVA Medical Center staff, untreated vasculitis could itself result in all of the unfortunate circumstances she suffered.
Also, warfarin (generic for coumadin) is a life-saving medication that thins blood to prevent clots from forming and blocking circulation to important organs such as the lungs and brain. Its side effect is– understandably–bleeding, so physicians weigh the risks and benefits of its use before starting it as treatment and monitor its effects, as any missed or doubled doses alter its effect in the body.
Lastly, sequential compression devices (SCDs) are an inexpensive, generally low-risk method to prevent clot-formation and potential tissue death, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, and stroke. They should be used in probably 95 percent or more of hospitalized patients, as one of the #1 risk factors for clot formation is being bed-ridden.
My problem isn't with the Toccis or their suit against UVA or the SCD manufacturers. I take issue with the fact that your writer opted to sensationalize important preventative measures as threats to life and limb. I can only be grateful that Stuart’s writing doesn't reach more of the US population– how many patients would defer life-saving measures due to the irresponsibility of one writer?
Kami M. Hu, MD