Nurses are quitting after RaDonda Vaught verdict
I feared this would happen and quite frankly I don't blame them. How much can people take before they break?
Vaught was acquitted of reckless homicide but convicted of a lesser charge, criminally negligent homicide, and gross neglect of an impaired adult. According to the Nashville district attorney's office, Vaught faces three to six years in prison for neglect and one to two years for negligent homicide as a defendant with no prior convictions.
While Ms. Vaught made a gross error in administering the wrong medication that ultimately killed a patient, (Murphey) finding her guilty of criminal activity with the possibility of spending as much as six years in prison is a very controversial, emotional, and heated possibility that could and will forever change the occupation of nursing and I would add all healthcare occupations forever.
"Like many nurses, Moore wondered if that could be her. She'd made medication errors before, although none so grievous. But what about the next one? In the pressure cooker of pandemic-era health care, another mistake felt inevitable. Four days after Vaught's verdict, Moore quit. She said the verdict contributed to her decision.
"It's not worth the possibility or the likelihood that this will happen," Moore said, "if I'm in a situation where I'm set up to fail." In the wake of Vaught's trial ― an extremely rare case of a health care worker being criminally prosecuted for a medical error ― nurses and nursing organizations have condemned the verdict through tens of thousands of social media posts, shares, comments and videos."
"Ashley Bartholomew, 36, a Tampa, Fla., nurse who followed the trial through YouTube and Twitter, echoed the fear of many others. Nurses have long felt forced into "impossible situations" by mounting responsibilities and staffing shortages, she said, particularly in hospitals that operate with lean staffing models. "The big response we are seeing is because all of us are acutely aware of how bad the pandemic has exacerbated the existing problems," Bartholomew said. "Setting a precedent for criminally charging [for] an error is only going to make this exponentially worse."
Below is the Change.org Grant RaDonda Vaught Clemency that currently has 191,368 of a 200,000 goal. https://www.change.org/p/grant-radonda-vaught-clemency?redirect=false
RaDonda Vaught has made it clear that she takes accountability for her medication error. She has expressed her remorse to the patient and her family. Granting clemency for her mistake is absolutely what she deserves as she is the only person in this situation who has been upfront and honest. She did not handle this situation out of greed and fear of scrutiny like in the hospital she worked for. She needs the community's support! She needs fellow nurse's support!
We have power in numbers. RaDonda Vaught's sentencing is scheduled for May 13th, 2022.
While Ms. Vaught has a lot of support from peers, the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, and the National Medical Association there are some cited in the attached NPR article that believe the possible punishment fits the crime. A California nurse with a small YouTube channel, Scott Shelp posted a that Vaught deserves to serve prison time. "We need to stick up for each other," he said, "but we cannot defend the indefensible." The video: 26-minute self-described "unpopular opinion"
I watched Nurse Shelp's video, and if I'm honest, it did make me think deeper about Ms. Vaught's errors. It is particularly damming that the incorrect medication had a red warning label (paralytic agent), and required multiple computer overrides. The medicine had to be mixed, and after administering it, according to the record, she did not watch the patient but was alerted when a code blue was called in radiology. It is also easy to Monday morning quarterback. You can see below the YouTube video that there are nurses that support his opinion on this.
I'm not, however, going to throw stones at Vaught as I have never walked in a nurse's shoes.
Vanderbilt did not report this error which is against the law and they also told the local medical examiner's office that Murphey died of "natural" causes, with no mention of the medicine error even though Ms. Vaught admitted it.
Vanderbilt Hospital paid the family of Murphey in an out-of-court settlement. It made the family sign a non-disclosure agreement that barred the family from publicly discussing the death. Ms. Vaught was terminated, lost her nursing license, was personally fined, had to pay court costs, and now is facing prison time.
Nurse Shelp correlates this case with the case of police officer Kimberly Potter, a former Minnesota police officer was convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting Daunte Wright.
Kimberly Porter, confused her gun for her Taser and fatally shot Daunte Wright, and was sentenced to two years in prison for manslaughter. This was also a fatal error but in a different environment.
Source: NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/30/us/daunte-wright-shooting-kimberly-potter.html
I do not have a good answer on this one as it happened pre-covid in 2017. Issues in healthcare staffing, medical mistakes, and poor facility management predated Covid-19, and the pandemic made the dam break. It pushed the entire system to it's limits, and it is still having a crippling effect on care, and I suspect this is not going to get fixed anytime soon.
This conviction will only push nurses further, kill morale and create a very volatile work environment. There are similarities between police and nurses as they both signed up to help, protect and serve. They are complex, risky, and high-stress occupations. Both have been overloaded, overtaxed, and difficult for years for very different reasons, yet they are relatable because both sign up to serve with admiral intentions and sacrifice.
I feel for Ms. Vaught and the Murphey family in this situation as they are paying the ultimate price, and unfortunately, the facility is getting off free and clear, which is wrong. I feel for all of us going forward both as patients and providers. While nurses seem to take the hits the most, we ALL become patients eventually.
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