Jury selection begins Monday in trial for former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught

radonda vaught
Posted at 8:35 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 08:01:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Jury selection is underway Monday for the trial of a former Vanderbilt nurse accused of killing a patient by giving her the wrong medication.

Prosecutors will seek to answer one main question: Can a nurse be held criminally responsible for giving a patient the wrong medications that authorities say resulted in the patient's death?

RaDonda Vaught did admit to using the wrong medication, which ultimately killed the patient back in December 2017.

No one is saying she did that intentionally. But, in 2019, Vaught was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury on charges of impaired adult abuse and reckless homicide. If convicted she could face up to ten years in prison.

Later the Tennessee Board of Nursing voted unanimously to strip 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.

So what exactly happened?

The patient 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, 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.

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.”

District Attorney Glenn Funk's office will prosecute the case. He says he understands that mistakes happen. But he added Vaught made so many mistakes — bypassing a number of fail-safes — it was just reckless and that what happened rose to the level of seeking criminal charges.