Ex-Nurse Convicted in Accidental Death of Patient

Nurse Convicted in Accidental Death of Patient

(ConservativeHub.com) – While civil cases against medical professionals often happen, healthcare providers rarely face criminal charges. Perhaps that’s why a recent criminal matter involving a former nurse in Tennessee has made headlines. The verdict led to outcries from nurses and associations who say the case has changed the medical field forever.

The Case Background

On March 25, a jury found RaDonda Vaught, a former nurse, guilty of negligent homicide and gross neglect. The charges stem from an incident in December 2017. Vaught provided care to Charlene Murphey, who entered Vanderbilt University Medical Center because of a brain injury.

Murphey’s condition was improving, and she was almost ready for release when a doctor prescribed an MRI-like scan. Due to her anxiety, the doctor prescribed her the sedative Versed. When Vaught obtained the medication, she made a series of fatal mistakes.

She mistakenly grabbed Vecuronium, a paralyzing agent, failing to note the name of the drug or the warning on it. The nurse injected the patient with the incorrect medication and then failed to follow through with proper protocols, leaving Murphey instead of monitoring her. The patient was brain-dead by the time anyone noticed the error.

The Arguments

During the trial, the prosecution said Vaught didn’t bother verifying the medication or following proper protocol, resulting in the loss of life. The defense argued it was a simple mistake, devoid of malice, and blamed faulty systems at the hospital.

Officials from Vanderbilt rejected this claim in court, saying despite early technical issues with the medication cabinet the nurse used, it was in working order the day of Murphey’s death. The former medical professional did not take the stand in her own defense. She admitted to her actions during questioning by law enforcement after her arrest and during a hearing with the Tennessee Board of Nursing.

The Controversy

The case has caused an uproar within the medical community. Nursing professionals say it will set a precedent for prosecutors to criminalize mistakes within the profession. They also say it could deter nurses from being honest about errors and even chase some workers out of the field. They feel such matters should remain with medical and licensing boards and civil courts.

Vaught’s sentencing will occur on May 13. She could receive up to six years in prison for the neglect charge and two years for the negligent homicide conviction. District Attorney spokesperson Steve Hayslip said the sentences will probably run concurrent, subjecting her to a maximum of six years behind bars.

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