Video: The Moment A Nurse Was Convicted Of Killing A Patient By Administering The Wrong Medication 

A Tiktok video has revealed the moment RaDonda Vaught was convicted in her medication error trial. The mistake which resulted in the death of a patient, has sparked debates and raised questions about accountability and responsibility within healthcare systems. Vaught’s trial, which commenced after a significant delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, culminated in a verdict that has left many contemplating the nuances of medical errors, institutional failings, and legal outcomes.

Following her admission to the hospital for a subdural hematoma, 75-year-old Charlene Murphey faced an unexpected turn of events. Two days into her stay, registered nurse RaDonda Vaught was tasked with administering Versed, a sedating medication, to Murphey. However, an unfortunate error occurred as Murphey ended up receiving vecuronium, a paralyzing drug, instead.

The mix-up originated from an attempt by Vaught to retrieve Versed from an automated dispensing cabinet, which is intricately linked to the hospital’s medical record software. Despite its intended seamless integration, a glitch emerged as the two electronic systems failed to communicate effectively. Consequently, the prescribed medication failed to appear on the list accessible to Vaught, leading to the administration of the incorrect drug.

During the trial, the prosecution emphasized Vaught’s use of the override function in administering medication as evidence of recklessness. However, it’s crucial to note that overrides are common occurrences in hospitals, with many experts attesting to their routine nature. Vaught herself cited system upgrades and resultant delays as factors leading nurses to resort to overrides to fulfill patient needs.

During the trial, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent underscored the medical center’s significant responsibility for the tragic error. Despite this acknowledgment, the investigation solely targeted the nurse, omitting any penalties or charges against the hospital. Moreover, the hospital’s failure to report the error to regulatory authorities, coupled with an out-of-court settlement with the victim’s family, further underscores systemic issues in transparency and accountability.

The jury’s verdict, convicting Vaught of gross neglect of an impaired adult and negligent homicide, reflects a recognition of her role in the incident. However, the acquittal of the more severe charge of reckless homicide raises questions about the legal interpretation of her actions. Ultimately, Judge Jennifer Smith’s decision to sentence Vaught to three years’ probation, sparing her from imprisonment, has ignited discussions about the adequacy of the punishment relative to the severity of the offense.

This case serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities surrounding medical errors, the intricacies of legal proceedings, and the imperative for robust systems to prevent such tragedies. While accountability at an individual level is crucial, addressing systemic issues within healthcare institutions is equally imperative to ensure patient safety and uphold the integrity of the medical profession. As the discourse continues, it is imperative to strive for a balanced approach that fosters accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement in healthcare delivery.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
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