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'That is the unsafest practice there is.' Board votes to revoke former Vandy nurse's license

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-24 00:04:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF — The Tennessee Board of Nursing voted to revoke a Former Vanderbilt University nurse after she admitted to using the wrong medication which ultimately killed the patient.

On Friday, board members voted unanimously to strip Radonda Vaught of her nursing license and fined her $3,000, with one board member saying there were just "too many nursing flags" going off that Vaught ignored when administering the medication.

radonda vaught
Radonda Vaught stands with her attorney during 2019 court hearing.

In 2019, Vaught was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury on charges of Impaired Adult Abuse and Reckless Homicide. A criminal trial is expected to be held next year.

WRONG MEDICATION KILLS CHARLENE MURPHEY:

Murphey died when she was given the paralytic drug Vecuronium Bromide rather than the sedative Versed.

Vaught got the medication from an Accudose machine. According to a TBI report, when she went to pull the medication Versed for the patient. It wasn't pulling up in the machine; so she said she overrode the system and typed "VE" to search it and selected the first medication to pop up on the list, which was Vecuronium Bromide.

The report goes on to explain that Vaught checked the back of the vial but never saw the front or top of the vial, which has warnings listed. She said under the advisement of her Unit Manager, she never scanned the vial to put it into the medical record.

Vaught told the board that she was distracted while pulling the medication and didn't read the vial to confirm the drug.

THE DECISION TO REVOKE VAUGHT'S NURSING LICENSE:

Vaught's attorney argued that "systemic failures at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center” contributed to the error. He said that even with those issues, "Vaught has never shrank from accepting responsibility from what happened. Her acceptance of responsibility was immediate. It was extraordinary and it was continuing."

He urged the board to find an alternative to removing her license indefinitely.

"I would respectfully suggest to you all that rather than revoking this good nurse’s license that there needs to be another more remedial way of dealing with an issue like this."

However, the board couldn't ignore the mistakes made by Vaught.

"Humans fill the machine...so human error can occur and they could put the wrong medication in there that's why we are charged with reading the medicine, reading the vial, verifying, always' that's your first step is to verify the medication," said board member Juanita Turnipseed. "And Miss Vaught admitted to not reading a medication. And how is that, how do you practice like that? That is the unsafest practice there is."

FELLOW NURSES RALLIED AROUND VAUGHT:

During the fallout of the incident, fellow nurses supported Vaught. The group attended court appearances to show her she wasn't alone.

"None of us should have to fear for our licenses, none of us should have to fear that a mistake even a tragic one would devastate not only the lives of the patient but our family," said Marguerite McBride, a nurse who worked with Vaught.

Nurse Rachel Fernandez was one of those nurses. She told NewsChannel 5 that criminal charges against Vaught could set a bad precedent.

"Many people will be scared to become a nurse, many may be scared to stay practicing and many people, if they make mistakes in the future like this, may not come as easily as they once did because they're afraid of getting a charge like this," she added.