Chapel Hill father finds healing through forgiveness after his son's death due to medical error

His son died due to a medical error. Now a local father is sharing his story.
Chapel Hill father shares story of son's medical error following Vaught conviction
Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 10:17:40-04

CHAPEL HILL, Tenn. (WTVF) — As the conviction of former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse RaDonda Vaught was announced, Chapel Hill pastor Ridley Barron tuned in, like many others.

"Any time you lose somebody, there's all kinds of things that cause you to reflect or be drawn back to that emotion," he said.

Barron and his family were involved in a car accident 18 years ago. His wife died and his 17-month-old son Josh was hospitalized.

"He was accidentally overdosed four days later by a pharmacist, who just simply made a mistake and gave an adult dosage of a medication he required," said Barron. "She had been a pharmacist for 25 years, and that day had simply made a mistake."

Josh Barron
Josh Barron was only 17-months-old when he died following a medical error.

The emotions he felt after the tragedy he said are hard to put into words.

"I mean you wake up some days going 'OK the dream needs to be over because this is too much,'" he said.

Barron struggled with what to do and how to feel. He knew sending the pharmacist to jail wouldn't bring his son back, and they had both already lost too much.

"The whole impetus for me was that I wanted me and my two children to go on with our lives, to move forward," said Barron. "I was anxious to do that and so forgiveness was the first course that had to happen, not just for the pharmacist, but for me."

It was a step towards healing. Another one came when he was invited back to the hospital to share his story, but it was just the beginning.

Today, Barron travels the country discussing the importance of transparency and forgiveness.

Ridley holding Josh.jpg
Ridley Barron is seen holding his 17-month-old son Josh following a family car accident that killed Ridley's wife. Just days later Josh would die because of a medical error.

"I've had incredible opportunities just to hold health care workers who've made those kind of mistakes," said Barron. "I've had the opportunity to talk with three or four who were on the verge of suicide."

He calls health care workers — like the pharmacist in his story — the "second victim."

"Every single one of us will make mistakes over the course of our lives doing things — mistakes in how we handle relationships, mistakes in how we handle our jobs, all kinds of things," said Barron.

As a victim of a medical error, his message for others is clear.

"As long as you've got breath, you've got hope. It's just a choice you make to choose to see the good in the possibility in life," he said.