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Former Vanderbilt nurse found guilty of criminally negligent homicide

By Joe Wenzel and Rebecca Cardenas

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — A former Vanderbilt nurse was found guilty Friday on two counts, including criminally negligent homicide.

A jury found former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught guilty of the lesser charge, criminally negligent homicide; however, she was not found guilty of reckless homicide, which is a more serious charge than the one she was convicted of.

The state rested its case in Vaught’s homicide trial on Thursday. She is accused of giving a 74-year-old patient a fatal dose of the wrong medication back in December 2017. Vaught is accused of negligent homicide for administering the wrong drug to Charlene Murphey on Dec. 26, 2017.

Saturday morning, News4 received a statement from the District Attorney’s office regarding the trial:

“The jury’s conviction of Radonda Vaught was not an indictment against the nursing profession or the medical community. This case was, and always has been about the gross neglect by Radonda Vaught that caused the death of Charlene Murphey. This was not a ‘singular’ or ‘momentary’ mistake.

Multiple health care professionals were on the jury. The jury found a series of decisions were made by Vaught to ignore her nursing training, and instead, failed to adhere to safety protocols that proved to be fatal.

The jury felt this level of care was so far below the proper standard of a reasonable and prudent nurse that the verdict was justified.”

The DA also included a photo of the red cap of the medication referenced in Vaught’s trial:

Vaught was very composed when she talked to the media outside the Metro Courthouse on Friday morning. Vaught said that no matter the outcome of this trial, the nursing community would be changed forever.

“Mr. Murphey’s family is at the forefront of my thoughts every day. It’s hard to know that you have done something that has impacted an entire family and impacted a life in the manor and not carry that burden with you,” Vaught added.

The District Attorney’s office maintains that this case was about the facts.

This trial was streamed and discussed by healthcare professionals around the country; some even traveled here to watch in person. The nurses here to support Vaught told me yesterday this trial will make nurses everywhere fear prosecution for making a mistake. A sentiment Vaught echoed.

“Every time you have someone’s life in your hands, you have an obligation to do the best you can,” Vaught said. “And if you don’t, you have an obligation, to tell the truth and to make it very clear to those around you that can make changes to make it better than this is what I did.”

One nursing student told News4 that the profession is already facing a shortage and that this verdict could have a huge impact on the future of the nursing industry.

“I’m terrified that now I’m in a profession where, God forbid, I do make a mistake,” one nursing student said.

The Davidson County District Attorney’s Office categorically rejects that narrative.

“This was not a case against the nursing community, this was about the actions of one individual,” said Assistant District Attorney Chad Jackson.

Vaught’s sentencing is scheduled for mid-May. In the meantime, she had this message for other nurses:

“You guys do what you do, do it well and don’t let this – don’t let this defeat you mentally.”

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