Nursing community responds to homicide conviction

By Devon Lee / Staff Writer

A medical error led to a patient’s death in 2017, leading the former nurse from Vanderbilt University Medical Center to be charged with negligent homicide and gross negligence of an impaired adult this year in court.

The Associated Press reports that RaDonda Vaught, 37, injected the paralyzing drug vecuronium into 75-year-old Charlene Murphey instead of the sedative Versed on Dec. 26, 2017.

Joana Marucci, a student nursing major, has had a passion for nursing since her childhood. The results of this case made her think about several things.

“If you make those types of mistakes, you must own up to it,” Marucci said. 

Marucci felt that the amount of years Vaught is facing is way too long and she made a mistake but she was still a nurse who dealt with saving human lives. Marucci was encouraged by Vaught because her situation was a valuable lesson for future nurses and it showed her mistakes to watch out for in her nursing career. 

She also said, nursing is scary, but it’s a risk she’s willing to take. The amount of lives able to be saved is worth the risk for Marucci.

Oscar Huerta, another nursing major, commented on this situation as well.

“I believe nurses should be held accountable for their actions,” he said. “However, people make mistakes and I don’t believe she should be tried for this accident.”

Huerta believed that Vaught should have her license suspended due to the intensity of the situation.

Through this tragedy, Vaught said that she didn’t regret honestly admitting her mistake. She said: “Someone has to pay a price, and it’s really easy to say, ‘Just let her do it’, Nurses see that, Medics see it, Radiology technicians see it.” 

During an interview with the Associated Press, Vaught said she often thinks about the patient and her family.

“Ms. Murphey’s family is at the forefront of my thoughts every day,” she said. “You don’t do something that impacts a family like this, that impacts a life, and not carry that burden with you.”

On the other side of the conflict, prosecutors believed that Vaught’s actions were certainly wrong. Assistant District attorney Chadwick Jackson told the AP: “The immutable fact of this case is that Charlene Murphey is dead because RaDonda Vaught couldn’t pay attention to what she was doing.”

The Missouri Nurses Association released a statement concerning the Vaught situation. They wanted to ensure that nurses and patients are thought about and are included in a safe medical environment.

A fellow nurse from facebook shared her concern publicly as well.

Some even took their reactions to Twitter. Here are some screenshots from those that gave their view:

Ap news noted that Vaught said she was concerned that the verdict will cause other providers “to be wary about coming forward to tell the truth. I don’t think the take-away from this is not to be honest and truthful.”

Ap news said, “The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 13. Vaught faces three to six years in prison on the gross neglect conviction and one to two years on the criminally negligent homicide conviction.

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