Former Tennessee nurse RaDonda Vaught found guilty in woman’s death after accidentally injecting her with wrong drug

Sadye Matula

A previous Tennessee nurse has been located responsible of criminally negligent murder in the death of a individual who was accidentally given the wrong medication, a jury found. RaDonda Vaught, 37, was also discovered guilty Friday of gross neglect of an impaired adult in a circumstance that has set the […]

A previous Tennessee nurse has been located responsible of criminally negligent murder in the death of a individual who was accidentally given the wrong medication, a jury found. RaDonda Vaught, 37, was also discovered guilty Friday of gross neglect of an impaired adult in a circumstance that has set the notice of client basic safety advocates and nurses’ corporations all around the nation.

Vaught injected the paralyzing drug vecuronium into 75-yr-outdated Charlene Murphey instead of the sedative Versed on Dec. 26, 2017. Vaught freely admitted to creating a number of problems with the medication that working day, but her protection legal professional argued the nurse was not performing exterior of the norm and systemic challenges at Vanderbilt University Clinical Heart ended up at least partly to blame for the mistake.

Nurses Error Tennessee
RaDonda Vaught, a former Vanderbilt College Clinical Middle nurse billed with in the death of a affected individual, listens to the opening statements all through her demo at Justice A.A. Birch Making in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

Stephanie Amador / AP


The jury found Vaught not guilty of reckless homicide. Criminally neglent murder was a lesser charge integrated less than the original demand.

As Vaught waited for the verdict on Friday morning, she was consistently approached by regional nurses who had appear to the courthouse to guidance her. Vaught was relaxed after the verdict was go through, but several of the nurses who surrounded her in the courthouse hallway had been in tears.

Interviewed immediately after the verdict, Vaught reported she was relieved to have a resolution immediately after 4 1/2 decades and hopes Murphey’s relatives is relieved as properly.

“Ms. Murphey’s household is at the forefront of my thoughts each and every day,” she stated. “You never do a little something that impacts a spouse and children like this, that impacts a daily life, and not carry that stress with you.”


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Murphey had been admitted to the neurological intensive treatment device on Dec. 24, 2017, soon after suffering from a brain bleed. Two times later on, health professionals making an attempt to establish the result in of the bleed requested a PET scan to verify for most cancers. Murphey was claustrophobic and was recommended Versed for her anxiety, in accordance to testimony. When Vaught could not locate Versed in an computerized drug dispensing cabinet, she made use of an override and accidentally grabbed vecuronium rather.

An professional witness for the state argued that Vaught violated the regular of care predicted of nurses. In addition to grabbing the erroneous medicine, she unsuccessful to read the identify of the drug, did not see a purple warning on the prime of the medication, and did not stay with the affected individual to check for an adverse reaction, stated nurse legal advisor Donna Jones.

Leanna Craft, a nurse educator at the neuro-ICU device where by Vaught worked, testified that it was popular for nurses at that time to override the process in get to get prescription drugs. The hospital experienced not too long ago current an digital information program, which led to delays in retrieving medications from the automated drug dispensing cupboards. There was also no scanner in the imaging location for Vaught to scan the treatment in opposition to the patient’s ID bracelet.

Assistant District Legal professional Chadwick Jackson informed the jury in closing arguments, “RaDonda Vaught acted recklessly, and Charlene Murphey died as a final result of that. RaDonda Vaught had a duty of care to Charlene Murphey and RaDonda Vaught neglected that. … The immutable reality of this scenario is that Charlene Murphey is lifeless because RaDonda Vaught couldn’t pay out interest to what she was undertaking.”

Vaught claimed she is involved that the verdict with trigger other companies “to be cautious about coming forward to notify the real truth. I will not believe the take-away from this is not to be truthful and truthful.”

Affected person safety skilled Bruce Lambert, in an interview right before the verdict, mentioned it was extremely regarding that Vaught was getting criminally prosecuted for a healthcare error.

“This will not only induce nurses and doctors to not report treatment faults, it will bring about nurses to leave the job,” said Lambert, director of the Heart for Communication and Well being at Northwestern College.

Prior to the sentencing, Vaught stated that she didn’t regret honestly admitting her error. She felt she was getting scapegoated immediately after Vanderbilt grew to become the issue of a shock inspection by the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Companies.

“Someone has to shell out a cost, and it is really genuinely simple to say, ‘Just let her do it’,” she said. “Nurses see that. Medics see it. Radiology specialists see it.”

Prosecutors talking about the verdict said it was not a precedent setting case that would end result additional criminalization of health-related glitches.

“This is not a situation against the nursing group,” reported Assistant District Legal professional Chadwick Jackson. “This is a circumstance versus a single unique.”

Janie Harvey Garner, who established the nurse advocacy firm Clearly show Me Your Stethoscope, disagreed.

“What is transpired here is that wellness treatment has been fully transformed,” Garner explained in a telephone interview. “Now when we explain to the truth, we are incriminating ourselves.”

Garner, who has been aiding to elevate money for Vaught’s protection, claimed regular men and women really don’t comprehend how hard and stress filled performing as a nurse can be. She reported errors are frequent and what occurred to Vaught could have took place to any individual.

“A jury of her peers would have all been ICU nurses,” Garner explained.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 13. Vaught faces three to 6 many years in jail on the gross neglect conviction and 1 to two many years on the criminally negligent murder conviction. Vaught has been no cost on bail and stays cost-free right until soon after she is sentenced. She reported she experienced not regarded no matter whether she would attractiveness.

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