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Ex-Nurse Gets Probation For Killing Patient With Dose of Wrong Drug

RaDonda Vaught, a former Tennessee nurse, was put on probation for fatally injecting a patient with an incorrect drug. Her case became a rallying cry for health-care workers who feared that medical mistakes would be criminalized, reports the Washington Post, Vaught, 38, who worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, could have been sentenced to eight years in prison for giving Charlene Murphey, 75, a fatal dose of the wrong medication in 2017. Prosecutors said that instead of giving Murphey a dose of the sedative Versed, Vaught injected her with the powerful muscle relaxant vecuronium, which left her unable to breathe. Vaught was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult. Davidson County Judge Jennifer Smith ruled Friday that Vaught would be granted a judicial diversion, meaning the conviction would be expunged if she completed a three-year probation.


“Ms. Vaught is well aware of the seriousness of the offense,” Smith said, noting that the Murphey family had suffered a “terrible loss.” “She credibly expressed remorse in this courtroom.” Smith said Vaught had no previous criminal record and would never be a nurse again. “This was a terrible, terrible mistake, and there have been consequences to the defendant,” Smith said. Medical errors, including those that result in death, are usually dealt with by state medical boards. Charges against those involved in fatal medical mistakes are almost never prosecuted in criminal court, which made Vaught’s case a matter of national interest. Protesters in purple T-shirts reading “#IAmRaDonda” celebrated outside the courthouse when the sentence was announced. The Davidson County District Attorney’s Office argued that her indictment was a case of one careless nurse and not indicative of the nursing profession.

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