RaDonda Vaught’s conviction has nurses heading for the exit doors

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

More than 100,000 nurses left the workforce in 2021, according to an analysis published April 13 in Health Affairs. Now a nurse’s criminal conviction for a medical error has the profession worried about how that number might swell. 

RaDonda Vaught’s March 25 conviction for a fatal medical mistake has spurred an outcry from nurses across the country, who say the ruling sets a dangerous precedent for the profession and will discourage nurses from speaking up about errors. 

Ms. Vaught was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult for a fatal medication error she made in December 2017 after overriding an electronic medical cabinet as a nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Ms. Vaught, 38, faces up to eight years in prison for the error. Her sentencing is scheduled for May 13. 

The case is a rare example of a healthcare worker facing criminal charges for a medical error. An estimated 22,000 people die annually in U.S. hospitals because of preventable errors, a 2020 study found.

Many nurses have expressed concerns about the likelihood of similar mistakes under increasingly difficult working conditions. 

“The RaDonda case could have been any one of us who was busy, tired, overwhelmed and trying to do the right thing,” Christen Bryce, RN, a New York-based mental health and substance abuse nurse, told Becker’s.

This viewpoint is hardly universal. Other nurses believe Ms. Vaught was rightfully held accountable for her error. 

“I understand that the majority of nurses don’t want to see RaDonda prosecuted. Neither did I. But we take an oath to not cause harm,” Latrina Walden, MSN, a nurse practitioner based in Georgia, told Becker’s.

For some nurses and nursing students, the risk of criminal prosecution is enough to make them reconsider a career in nursing.

Erica, a Las Vegas-based hospice nurse and social media influencer who asked not to share her last name and goes by the pseudonym “Nurse Erica,” said she’s heard from thousands of nurses who have expressed concerns about staying in the profession since Ms. Vaught’s conviction.

“I’ve heard thousands of them say, ‘Yep, that’s it. I just quit,’ or ‘I just turned in my two weeks notice,’ or ‘I am now in the process of figuring out my exit plan to leave within the next three to six months,'” she said.

Some safety and medical organizations, including the American Nurses Association, the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, have warned the verdict could have broader repercussions on healthcare recruitment efforts. 

“The nursing profession is already extremely short-staffed, strained and facing immense pressure — an unfortunate multiyear trend that was further exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic,” the American Nurses Association and Tennessee Nurses Association said March 25. “This ruling will have a long-lasting negative impact on the profession.” (Continued)

Read entire article here.

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6 thoughts on “RaDonda Vaught’s conviction has nurses heading for the exit doors”

  1. While on dialysis, a nurse take too much fluid off: she took 2 kg too much. She then altered the patient record (a crime in itself) to hide the fact. My primary nurse and one of the doctors were aware of it. It would be naive to think that all nurses or doctors, or hospital administrators are saints.

  2. Heaven help you if a young healthy adult spinal cord injected with a defective dye for an x-ray (milogram). Sure, your spinal cord becomes a spider web of adhesions (stuff sticks together until you move and pull it apart, exquisitely painful) and the adhesions fill up the holes the spinal cord passes through with the decades.

    All the way, the harmed is now the enemy, one must struggle to get through life not only conquering pain, misery, incapacity “not being fun to be around”.

    One must also contend with learning to mislead doctors and staff with typical sounding diseases with similar symptoms so they do not ROUTINELY and PREDICTABLY and for DECADES cover for the doctor now long dead (was in seventies) by not mentioning the disease name, nor creating any medical records that affirm cause and effect- even though the proof is now thick like a swollen snake of adhesions a foot above the original injury site.

    Beware the Medical Industrial Complex, more powerful than anyone else, able to get their friends any drugs they want, hide from most any deadly mistake they make (and worse in the military)(triple worse in VA).

    When they changed the term “Medical treatment” to “Health Care” they surrepetitiously changed what you seek help for- instead of a distinct, cause and effect, access and treatment, it is now a politically charged miasma of fad treatments, changing feigned diseases, mostly to turn YOU into a commodity and a cash cow.

    I SINCERELY BELIEVE for myself absolutely, for you, probably, the more you stay away from the Medical Industrial Complex, the longer you will live and healthier, with obvious glaring exceptions. Take good care of your body, team with your family or trusted friends to monitor treatment, body status, medications. When you go to a doctor, bring a family or trusted friend to quietly take notes on PAPER. Become expert in being highly prepared yet not sounding threatening to their status quo, resist the urge to relate you MAY know more about your medical status than they.

    Realize also, these are human beings forced to feign all capability and all knowingness, and this power trip- position of power, corrupts all but the most devoted humans, and the latter have to ALSO learn to stay quiet, toe the line, or THEY get hammered by their colleagues. It is very like “honor among theives”, lacking a better way of saying it- much like school teachers- if the few of high honor do not mute and consider their own interests their career, life, retirement, can be sabotaged.

    It is regrettable I must also, with a smoking stack of medical PAPER work, and a story that leaves this all totally proven, several feet tall stack of paper, six inches of X-rays, leave out so much detail, since, in order to get treated well or at all, I must hide it all.

    On the upside, since the Internet began, and then, the WWW, I have had massive amount of time to read and learn and no distractions from an ordinary life. Big life answers are now right in the open (unrelated to medical care or treatment) but just as the stars are opened and understandable, and eons of looking up at them now answered, we are collectively, repeatedly, chemically, media, news, and other ways, directed to look down, below our navels, for truths. Think of a dog, it finds no truth there, just satisfaction.

    Look up. Research time dilation and general relativity. Take ten years and you will find ultimate answers Mankind once new, provoking millennia of what we call religion, fall right into your hands, and be prepared, nobody is really interested in ultimate answers like “Where did we come from” “What is God” “Where did DNA on Earth come from” and “Where did the Universe come from”.


  3. Vanderbilt has some culpability in this also. They however talked & paid their way out of it.

    The healthcare industry has slipped away from being held accountable for decades and they got used to it unfortunately.

    Now, they are finding out that even they will be held accountable for their actions.

    Society demands accountability from everyone today not just a few.

    We all have to get used to that fact.


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