Controversial verdict for former Nashville nurse inspires heated debate

Vaught speaks with reporters
Posted at 2:48 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 20:03:46-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The fallout from a controversial verdict is heated — this after a former Vanderbilt nurse was convicted of criminally negligent homicide for a mistake made on the job.

RaDonda Vaught now faces potential jail time, and many still question why she was ever charged.

Reaction to the verdict was swift.

Some agreed with it. Others — especially in health care — were appalled that the jury convicted a nurse after only four hours of deliberations for a mistake on the job.

"This case wasn't about simple professional negligence. It was about gross neglect of a patient," said assistant district attorney Chad Jackson.

He prosecuted Radonda Vaught, the nurse who accidentally gave the wrong drug to patient Charlene Murphey who died.

To make the case, prosecutors listed seventeen mistakes made by Vaught in the care of the patient.

The jury convicted the former Vanderbilt Medical Center nurse of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect.

"The homicide charge is that she deviated so far from the standard of care — so far below grossly negligent, leading to Charlene Murphey's death," said Jackson.

Defense attorney Peter Strianse conceded Vaught made a horrible mistake, but said it wasn't criminal and that Vanderbilt should shoulder much the blame.

"I believe there were systemic issues at Vanderbilt Medical Center that contributed to what happened here," said Strianse.

"In this case, it was all the actions of Radonda Vaught," Jackson countered. "Vanderbilt did not put that medication in her hand or make her override the system."

Many others and Vaught herself disagree, saying the prosecution showed a lack of understanding of the pressures and stresses felt by those in health care.

"It's very obvious they don't know **** about health care," said Vaught. "They don't give a **** about nurses. I don't care what Chad Jackson says."

Critics of the verdict fear this will have a chilling effect on nursing, driving people away from the profession.

"I hope that his district attorney's office and others will not see this an open season on medical errors," said Strianse.

Time will tell.

Jackson says this case was the exception, not the rule. An outlier so egregious, they had a duty to prosecute the case.

The jury convicted.

Vaught will be sentenced by the judge in May and could get probation or up to three years in prison.