Nurse sentenced to 3 years probation after lethal drug mix-up

By Adam Schrader

May 13 (UPI) -- A nurse in Tennessee convicted of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired patient after a drug mix-up caused the death of an elderly patient was sentenced to three years of probation Friday.

Judge Jennifer Smith of the Davidson County criminal court granted RaDonda Vaught, 38, a judicial diversion which will expunge her criminal record after completing her probation, Kaiser Health News reported.


Vaught, who was convicted in March, had faced up to eight years in prison for the 2017 death of Charlene Murphey at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Murphey, 75, was prescribed the sedative Versed but Vaught accidentally gave her a fatal dose of the powerful paralyzer vecuronium.

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The case drew from nurses nationwide who turned up by the hundreds to rally in support of Murphey outside of the courthouse Friday, The Tennessean reported.

"It was like a rollercoaster. But that was the very best outcome we could have hoped for today," said Knoxville nurse Tina Vinsant.

Libby Diaz drove two from Alabama to attend the demonstration and told The Tennessean that nurses felt that they all could have been in Vaught's position.


The case had become a rallying cry for nurses because medical errors generally fall into the domain of state medical boards, Kaiser Health News noted. Such cases are also rarely prosecuted in a criminal court.

The judge said Friday that Vaught was "open and honest" about her error and that the former nurse, who had her license revoked, had no criminal record and would not be able to reoffend.

"I have lost far more than just my nursing license and my career. I will never be the same person," Vaught told the court. "When Ms. Murphey died, a part of me died with her."

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