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Morning Line RaDonda Vaught Verdict 3/29/22

Why the Redonda Vaught Verdict Scares Every TN Medical Professional  

Redonda Vaught was found guilty in a criminal court associated with her professional mistake in giving a paralytic medication. The District Attorney for Nashville decided to prosecute the nurse for action that has put the medical professional community on alert about significant career risks to any nurse who administers medication to a patient. The case also has caught the attention of a medical malpractice attorney Hendersonville TN resource as well.

A Mix-Up of Drug Names

Working as a nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vaught was the float nurse on schedule in the neurological intensive care unit and was also assigned to train a new nurse at the same time. During a particular shift, a patient, Charlene Murphey, came in for a positron emission tomography examination, otherwise known as a PET scan. As part of the process to help calm the patient, an intravenous sedative could be administered, also known as a VERSED. Nurse Vaught was directed to apply a VERSED IV to Murphey for the PET exam.

Nurse Vaught ran into issues trying to confirm the pharmaceutical delivery and obtain the right medication for the patient. The computer system, Accu-Dose system, was purportedly not operating the correct way. Nurse Vaught had to manually override the system to obtain what she thought was the correct medication. Instead, she obtained Vecuronium which is a paralytic. Once given by IV, the wrong medication ultimately ended killed the patient, Mrs. Murphey.

Preventable Risks Were Already in Place

Aside from the fact that Nurse Vaught applied the wrong pharmaceutical herself and manually overrode the drug delivery system, she identified several Vanderbilt system failures. Barcodes were not used for drug identification and there was no review of the drug before it was injected. Vanderbilt allegedly failed in critical safety reviews and oversights that directly led to the death of Mrs. Murphey.

A Singular Focus on the Medical Professional

The District Attorney focused their successful case on three aspects: reckless endangerment, reckless homicide, and criminally negligent homicide. These are all felonies. The most serious of the three, reckless homicide, was specific to what the jury viewed as her disregard of the patient’s safety. It was a violation of the standard of care that nurses should provide.

Many in the medical community continue to ask why the criminal focus was entirely on Nurse Vaught and not the hospital she worked for if poor patient care is at the heart of the people’s interest in the case. The facts of the case point to both Nurse Vaught and Vanderbilt as culprits. No one argues that Nurse Vaught administered the correct pharmaceutical. The hospital administration at Vanderbilt allegedly failed in management of its controlled resources, which in turn allowed the risk to occur. The failure was serious enough that it put Vanderbilt at risk under federal CMS review for additional federal funding. There was responsibility present on the part of the organization. However, the prosecutors didn’t bring charges against Vanderbilt or its managers. This is where a medical malpractice law firm Hendersonville Tennessee resource can help.

Jury trials are rarely reminiscent of all facts. Every medical malpractice attorney Hendersonville Tennessee expert will confirm this. It is an adversarial environment the legal system touts proudly in law schools and to the public. The decision in Nurse Vaught’s case depended as much on what were the facts presented as it did on the legal resources made available and used in the trial to argue both sides. Given that a jury is limited to what the judge allows them to consider via bench directions to the jury for deliberation, the jury focused entirely on Nurse Vaught for the outcome of the death and the circumstances of the case. A guilty verdict was not much of a surprise to a Hendersonville Tennessee medical malpractice attorney, because the instructions limited the case to a review of Nurse Vaught’s actions, not Vanderbilt’s.

The Ramifications of the Case Verdict

For the Tennessee nursing community, Nurse Vaught’s case is an alarm bell. Multiple medical professional organizations have come out publicly decrying the incorrect verdict in their opinion, criminalizing the risk of medical mistakes based on system failure. It is also likely to make every Tennessee doctor and nurse hide or disguise their mistakes with pharmaceuticals for fear that they may be prosecuted. This is not good public policy. Instead, the civil justice system should be the exclusive forum for deciding medical / nursing negligence actions. Furthermore, hospital system errors must be highlighted because they can kill. Proving hospital mistakes is the specialty of The Kelly Firm and medical malpractice attorney Clint Kelly is available to help. Medical malpractice attorney Clint Kelly can demonstrate why assembly line medicine at hospitals hurts patients and sets up good nurses to fail. Full compensation paid to patients and families by hospital insurance companies in addition to hospital policy changes are the proper remedies for hospital mistakes that kill, not the criminal prosecution of doctors and nurses.

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