NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee nurse charged with reckless killing following a medication error killed a patient who showed support in a courtroom in Nashville on Wednesday that included many other nurses who had come to Scrubs.
The flaw occurred at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in December 2017 when RaDonda Vaught injected 75-year-old Charlene Murphey with the paralytic vecuronium instead of Versed sedative.
The 35-year-old Vaught could not find Versed in an automatic dispensing cabinet. As a result, she used an override mechanism to enter "VE" and took the first drug, which came to market according to court documents and a Centers for Medicare report, and Medicaid Services.
After Wednesday's hearing, Vaught lawyer Peter Strianse said the lawsuit against the nurse was "completely unfathomable". He pointed out that the state nursing agency had done nothing against Vaught's still-active nursing rights.
"This is a terrible precedent, and these nurses are here today because it's obviously unfair to sue a nurse for a crime for something no more than a mistake," said Strianse.
Vaught did not want to discuss the case, but she and several other nurses collapsed when she spoke of the "overwhelming" support she had received.
"I am very grateful that I have chosen a profession with such generous, loving people," said Vaught. Online backers have donated more than $ 72,000 for their legal bills.
Janie Harvey Garner directs the online sister agency Show Me Your Stethoscope. She organized support for Vaught and flew to the St. Louis Hearing.
Garner said medication errors happen all the time, but the public usually does not know them. And she said that nurses do not take the mistakes lightly.
"RaDonda has to wake up every day and think about what happened," Garner said. "I made a small mistake at the beginning of my career, nobody was hurt, but every time I think about it, I'm sweating."
Garner said she believes that Murphey's death was terrible and tragic. However, she worries that the prosecution of Vaught will affect the safety of patients.
"This will cause people to die because people will not make their mistakes," Garner said.
The Nashville District Procuratorate has declined to discuss the decision to sue Vaught, but a spokesman sent a reporter a rewrite of Tennessee's definition of "reckless".
It is sometimes said that behavior is considered careless when a person ignores a significant risk in a manner that "is a gross departure from the standard an ordinary person would exercise."
Sister Marguerite McBride was at the hearing Wednesday to support Vaught and said she had been working with her in another hospital for about a year.
"She's an amazing, compassionate, caring nurse," McBride said. "Families love them, and other nurses love them."
This story was edited to correct the spelling of the nurse's first name in RaDonda and the charges of reckless killings.