Nurses fear ‘chilling effect’ after Vanderbilt verdict


RaDonda Vaught, a former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse charged in the death of a patient, was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. (Stephanie Amador/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville District Attorney’s Office has released a statement following the conviction of RaDonda Vaught after a jury found the former Vanderbilt nurse guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

The guilty verdict comes after RaDonda Vaught is said to have administered a fatal dose of the wrong medication to 75-year-old Charlene Murphey in December of 2017. Charlene Murphey, 75, was waiting for a standard scan at Vanderbilt University Medical Center when Vaught was supposed to administer a sedative for Murphy’s comfort, but instead gave Murphey a different medication that causes paralysis. Murphey died within 20 minutes after receiving the medication. 

On Saturday, the Nashville District Attorney’s Office released an image of the cap that was on the medication that RaDonda Vaught administered to 75-year-old Charlene Murphey. According to the Nashville District Attorney’s Office, the cap on the medication issued a warning label that stated “warning: paralyzing agent.”

Nurses nationwide say that the verdict has left them disturbed and as a result could leave aspiring nurses less eager to join the field or report medical errors. The American Nurses Association reacted to the trial, saying the guilty verdict could have a “chilling effect on reporting and process improvement.” 

However, in a statement released Saturday morning, the Nashville District Attorney’s Office states that the verdict was not an indictment against the nursing profession but rather about “gross neglect” on the part of Vaught. 

“The jury’s conviction of RaDonda Vaught was not an indictment against the nursing profession or the medical community. This case was, and always has been about the gross neglect by RaDonda Vaught that caused the death of Charlene Murphey. This was not a ‘singular’ or ‘momentary’ mistake,” the statement read.

“Multiple health care professionals were on the jury. The jury found a series of decisions were made by Vaught to ignore her nursing training, and instead, failed to adhere to safety protocols that proved to be fatal,” the DA’s office continued. “The jury felt this level of care was so far below the proper standard of a reasonable and prudent nurse that the verdict was justified.” 

Before a verdict was reached, RaDonda Vaught spoke with News 2 and shared her thoughts on the District Attorney’s Office in Davidson County, stating, “It has taken three of them, and a bunch of lies, to do their job and that’s a reflection of them and not me.”

Sentencing for RaDonda Vaught is set for May 13.

© 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation