Vanderbilt nurse: Guilty in medical error case

The following is an excerpt from Becker’s Hospital Review.

A jury convicted former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult, ⁠The Tennessean reports. 

A practicing registered nurse and a former respiratory therapist made up two of the jurors. Ms. Vaught will be sentenced by Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith ⁠— who heard the case ⁠— on May 13. She faces up to eight years in prison. 

Ms. Vaught faced criminal charges of reckless homicide and impaired adult abuse for a medical error made in December 2017, when she inadvertently injected a 75-year-old patient with a powerful paralyzer, vecuronium, when she was prescribed a sedative, Versed, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

This week, the American Nurses Association said the trial could have a “chilling effect” on medical error reporting and process improvement in healthcare. 

“COVID-19 has already exhausted and overwhelmed the nursing workforce to a breaking point,” ANA said. (Continued)

Read more here.

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3 thoughts on “Vanderbilt nurse: Guilty in medical error case”

  1. Retired ER RN here. How someone could confuse vec with a benzo like versed is a mystery to me. Vec is a paralytic, versed a mild benzo commonly used in conscious sedation. Unreal.

  2. Without the benefit of being on the jury nor in the court, and based on what I’ve read I have 2 concerns about this being “just a mistake”.

    The first is that versed comes in a liquid form, where vecuronium is in powdered form and has to be reconstituted.

    The second is that vecuronium has a red ring on/around the top that says it’s a paralytic agent.

    Both should have been huge warning signs that she had the wrong med.

    While there may have been systemic issues with the hospitals dispensing mechanism as a mitigating factor it doesn’t relieve the person giving the medication from their responsibility to ensure they’re giving the right med.

    In her defense, she did report the error to the hospital and never lied about nor denied her actions.

    I’m not sure what an appropriate punishment should be nor how the deceased womans family feels about this. If the family has no opinion, I would think maybe 1 year in jail (suspended), 5 years probation and community service (like talking to nursing students about her experience) during the whole probation period would be appropriate.

    1. I agree that all the safety measures were bypassed but we weren’t there. I question the hospital policy that did not send someone to monitor the patient during the scan after they received what they thought was versed. I am a retired RN and we would have never sent an unaccompanied patient post medication with this drug.
      Nurses have always been the last wall of protection between the patient and multiple ancillary departments, to include physicians and pharmacists. I can’t tell you how many times I prevented an error that could have been made by another department. We looked out for the patient and everyone else who cared for the patient. My question is: Who is looking out for nurses?

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