Three years probation for a Tennessee nurse accused of a fatal drug blunder
RaDonda Vaught, a former Tennessee nurse convicted of two felonies for a deadly medication error, will not be sentenced to jail.
Judge Jennifer Smith awarded Vaught a judicial diversion on Friday, which means her conviction would be wiped if she completes three years of probation.
That “nothing that happens today can ease that loss” was Smith’s message to the Murphey family.
The violation is significant, Miss Vaught knows it, Smith added. “She credibly expressed remorse in this courtroom.”
No criminal record, removed from the health care context, and never practise nursing again, the judge said. “This was a terrible, terrible mistake and there have been consequences to the defendant.” the court added.
Hundreds of purple-clad demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse to oppose Vaught’s prosecution cheered as the sentence was read.
Ms. Vaught, 38, a former nurse at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center, faced up to 8 years in jail Charges of criminally negligent murder and severe negligence of an incapacitated adult were brought against her in March. Murphey was given the sedative Versed, but Vaught accidentally gave her the potent paralyzer vecuronium.
Michael Murphey, Charlene Murphey’s son, testified Friday that his family is still grieving her untimely death. His widower father want “the maximum sentence.”
“My dad suffers every day from this,” Michael Murphey said. “He goes out to the graveyard three to four times a week and just sits out there and cries.”
Vaught’s case is notable because medical errors, especially fatal ones, are typically handled by state medical boards, and lawsuits seldom result in criminal charges.
The Davidson County district attorney’s office said Vaught’s case was an indictment of one irresponsible nurse, not the whole nursing profession. Prosecutors said Vaught failed to realise that Versed is a liquid and vecuronium is a powder when she grabbed the wrong medicine.
In court, Vaught accepted her mistake and argued that an honest mistake shouldn’t be a criminal.
During the hearing on Friday, Vaught claimed she was “open and honest” about her blunder to prevent future mistakes by other nurses. Vaught also argued that putting her to jail was unjust since she couldn’t possible reoffend after losing her nursing licence.
“I’ve lost my nursing licence and my career. I’ll never be the same “Vaught began to scream, her voice wavering. “When Ms. Murphey died, a part of me died with her.”
During her remarks, Vaught apologised to Murphey’s family for both the terrible blunder and the public campaign against her prosecution.
“You don’t deserve this,” Vaught remarked. “I hope it does not come across as people forgetting your loved one. … I think we are just in the middle of systems that don’t understand one another.”