RaDonda Vaught was indicted on two charges (reckless homicide and impaired adult abuse) back in 2019 for the unfortunate death of Charlene Murphey at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Murphy was injected with a drug that she subsequently had an adverse reaction to. Murphey was intended to receive a dose of versed; however, due to an avoidable error, she was injected with vecuronium. This medication error resulted in Mrs. Murphey being unable to breathe and dying as a result. It is undisputed that RaDonda did not intend Mrs. Murphey’s death.
Instead, prosecutors argued that it was RaDonda’s conscious disregard of warnings and risks when she pulled the wrong medication from the electronic dispensing cabinet that required her to search for the drug by name. Prosecutors argued this wasn’t just a simple mistake, but instead that all Radonda had to do was pay attention.
RaDonda was found guilty of neglect of an impaired adult and criminally negligent homicide (a lesser included of reckless homicide). Her sentencing is scheduled for May 13, 2022. She faces three to six years of imprisonment for the gross neglect charge and another one to two years for the negligent homicide.
Many doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are concerned about the repercussions of this case and the legal precedent it sets. This is likely to be a shot heard around the nation. I would expect that many States will pass laws to protect health care workers from criminal liability for medication errors. Prior to this case, these types of errors were handled via the civil courts in Medical Malpractice cases.
RaDonda has been asked if she would appeal the verdict and she has stated she is undecided at this point.