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Nurse Charged With Homicide

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Nurse Charged With Homicide

  1. 1. Should Radonda Vaught, the nurse who gave a lethal dose of Vecuronium to patient at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, be charged with reckless homicide?

    • She should not have been charged
      358
    • She deserved to be charged
      104

462 members have participated

2 hours ago, Ado Annie said:

Reading all these responses has been really interesting. One question that keeps coming to my mind is ... when a law enforcement officer uses deadly force. It is so rare for someone to be charged, even though the news accounts sometimes paint a picture that makes the officer's actions seem reckless or at very least, an overreaction. 

Are there parallels to nursing practice? How are they the same or different?

This makes me think of someone's analogy with a speeding driver accidentally killing someone, and how the driver should be charged with reckless homicide, just as they think this nurse should be charged. The better analogy with the nurse is if the speeding driver is actually an ambulance driver rushing a patient to the hospital, and the ambulance driver loses control because the roads are wet and slippery and traffic is bad and the ambulance's lights aren't working properly and the tires are bald, etc. -- so driver loses control of the vehicle and crashes, killing the patient onboard. Charge the driver with reckless homicide? NO! Charge the nurse? NO!

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2 minutes ago, juan de la cruz said:

There are no perfect nurses as we all agree, we all are capable of mistakes. But it's time for nurses to demand better working conditions where we are not worked so hard that we end up performing tasks without thinking things through. This should be a wake up call that enough is enough.

AMEN to that! That's why I quit my job in the hospital, because it was not a safe environment for patients (or for my license). I should be writing to my representatives about my strong feelings about it though...and doing a lot more to change things.

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11 minutes ago, mtnNurse. said:

Honestly, I would want some of you perfect nurses to be my nurse if god forbid I go to the hospital -- the nurses who would never be worked so hard that they'd have a harmful lapse of judgement in giving care. I'm not kidding, I would want one of you to be my nurse. But I would pray to god you wouldn't be on my jury if god forbid I ever made a dreadful mistake despite how conscientious I always strive to be!

Think about an airline pilot who has responsibility for the safety of a large number of passengers and crew members.  The pilot shows up to his/her flight drunk and is arrested on the flight deck 30 minutes before the plane is due to take off and is taken off the plane in handcuffs by the airport police/security.  Do you think the plane could have crashed if it had taken off with the pilot at the controls?  Do you think it makes any difference if the pilot says they had the best intentions and never meant to harm anyone?  What if the pilot say they're under a lot of pressure at work; they're being made to fly far too often with too little rest in between flights?  Do you think that argument will make any difference?  No; they are a licensed professional and the public have placed their trust in their ability to perform competently and professionally, and the safety of everyone on board depends on the pilot's ability to do this.  They are expected to know their limitations, and to know when they can't perform safely and to remove themself from a situation where they can't perform safely.  

 

 

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7 hours ago, LibraNurse27 said:

I agree she most likely did not know that midazolam was the generic name for Versed and also did not know much about the effects of Versed or monitoring usually associated with it. However since it was not emergent or even urgent to give this medication she should have taken the time to ask someone about the medication or ask for help when she couldn't find it rather than overriding it. And she DEFINITELY should have looked at the vial, after she pulled it, while she was drawing from it, before she administered the med... at all the times when nurses are supposed to look at what they are doing.

I understand nursing is super stressful and there is pressure to get things done quickly and it is difficult to find someone who is available to consult with. However it is much better to be reprimanded for being too slow because you insisted on doing things safely than to cause injury or death.

I am afraid to ask this but I have a safety question regarding a practice at my facility: We do not have a monitor that we are able to bring into the MRI room (poor community hospital!) so if a patient cannot be off monitor we have to wait for them to be stable to do MRI. If the patient is claustrophobic sometimes the doctor will order PO ativan 30 mins to one hour before (usually 0.5mg for patients with no benzo tolerance and 1-2 mg for those chronically using benzos) and in some cases they order IV (with same dosing as the PO but 5 to 15 mins before or to be given during the MRI if patient gets anxious during the test). In this case we are expected to wait for order and pharmacy verification, pull the med (not override) and scan, etc. but we ARE expected to go to MRI and give it and then go back to the floor to care for our other patients. I usually stay for a few minutes or ask someone to stay if I am truly worried about the patient. Also the MRI techs talk to the patient continuously and can see the patient during the entire scan. They call us immediately if any concerns. I know ativan is different than versend and 0.5mg is not much but after reading this I am so nervous about this practice. Would it be best to advocate that a nurse needs to stay in MRI if a patient gets any type of possibly sedating med? We are always short staffed so will be difficult to implement but I don't want to compromise patient safety. Thanks all!

I actually faced this situation a few weeks ago. The patient was on a tele unit with altered mental status and a neurologic condition. The patient was ordered for MRI of the brain and IV ativan premed was ordered.  I told the doctor that it was a safety issue to allow the patient to receive ativan and not be monitored during the procedure. I stated that I was not able to go with the patient. We do not have resource nurses.  The MRI was then cancelled and ironically I read about this case the next day.

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4 minutes ago, Susie2310 said:

No; they are a licensed professional and the public have placed their trust in their ability to perform competently and professionally, and the safety of everyone on board depends on the pilot's ability to do this.  They are expected to know their limitations, and to know when they can't perform safely and to remove themself from a situation where they can't perform safely.  

Regarding the drunk pilot analogy, that is a whole different conversation. If the nurse showed up to work on drugs or set out to kill that morning, that is a whole different conversation that would obviously change how I've pointed out her mistake does not meet "reckless homicide" criteria.

I like what I quoted you on above except that it makes it sound like it's all up to the nurse to fix an unsafe system when it should be up to the facility to give the nurse a safe environment to work in. How lucky for the for-profit health care system. They get an entire workforce with whom they can over-work and give impossible job expectations to who will willingly take the blame when the inevitable mistakes get made in unsafe work environments. But I think that is wonderful if all nurses would know their limitations, know when they can't perform safely, and remove themselves if they can't, as you said. Nursing schools really ought to do a better job of driving those ideas home. But even if all nurses can overcome wanting-to-be-a-good-worker-and-teamplayer mode and stand up strong and speak out when they are being forced to take too many patients...even then...do you know you've reached your limitations before it's too late? Do you know you're about to have a serious lapse of good judgement right before you lose it? Or does it sneak up on you, and you thought you could handle it, and you were doing the best you could and thought you were hanging in there and would keep everyone safe because no one else had time to help anyway...and then a mistake gets made...then well, that nurse should've just known better then to get in that situation to begin with?

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I know one thing for sure - if I was a nurse at Vanderbilt today, I would be seriously looking at other hospitals for employment.

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Our accudose allows us to search under either generic or trade. Pixsis should have a similar feature. 

It does boil down to gross negligence. She really ignored every commonsense safety precaution under the sun. 

Still, I'm in favor of no jail time. I'm wondering if she has some attention deficit problem.  I  mean, what's up with this gal? How could she be so clueless?

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On 2/5/2019 at 8:56 PM, TNViking said:

I live in Tennessee so this really hits home hard. Vanderbilt is our closest burn center. I have mixed feelings about this case, on one hand, vecuronium and versed are two completely different things; and from what I remember back in my ER and CCU days, I think paralytics such as that are clearly labeled with warnings. HOWEVER, I have compassion for her, because I wonder what her day that day was like. We all know what it is like to have the day from hell where you are short staffed, overloaded with acutely ill patients, and management is over here trying to push even more on you. Perhaps she was overwhelmed, perhaps she had a patient who was starting to go downhill, a new admit, and had to get this one down to radiology all at the same time. Its easy to make mistakes when we are at our wit's end. It was a horrible tragedy, but I'm not sure I agree with the charges of reckless homicide. Especially when these charges are brought forth by individuals who likely have never spent a day working as a nurse. 

AMEN, I ABSOLUTELY CONCUR! WE'RE DYING OUT HERE!

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45 minutes ago, mtnNurse. said:

Regarding the drunk pilot analogy, that is a whole different conversation. If the nurse showed up to work on drugs or set out to kill that morning, that is a whole different conversation that would obviously change how I've pointed out her mistake does not meet "reckless homicide" criteria.

 

Professional nurses and professional airline pilots both have in common that they are trained in safety methods in their respective fields and have a professional and legal duty to the public by virtue of their licensure.  Arriving drunk to a flight when one is in charge of the airplane is a reckless, negligent act and is a serious safety violation.  For any nurse, not using the five rights (and other checks) before administering medications is a reckless act and a serious safety violation which can result in harm or death to a patient.    

Edited by Susie2310

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I don't understand why everyone is trying to pass the responsibility elsewhere. She accidentally killed someone, which is involuntary manslaughter. Her neglect cost a life. She is not being charged with murder.

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29 minutes ago, virginislands said:

AMEN, I ABSOLUTELY CONCUR! WE'RE DYING OUT HERE!

I voted against the charge in the poll of this post but once I read that she admitted to not even reading the name of the medicine she pushed, I wish I could change my vote.

EMTs, Medical Assistants-- RNs?  Who would ever push a med without knowing what you are pushing.  Just crazy. 

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1 hour ago, Susie2310 said:

Think about an airline pilot who has responsibility for the safety of a large number of passengers and crew members.  The pilot shows up to his/her flight drunk and is arrested on the flight deck 30 minutes before the plane is due to take off and is taken off the plane in handcuffs by the airport police/security.  Do you think the plane could have crashed if it had taken off with the pilot at the controls?  Do you think it makes any difference if the pilot says they had the best intentions and never meant to harm anyone?  What if the pilot say they're under a lot of pressure at work; they're being made to fly far too often with too little rest in between flights?  Do you think that argument will make any difference?  No; they are a licensed professional and the public have placed their trust in their ability to perform competently and professionally, and the safety of everyone on board depends on the pilot's ability to do this.  They are expected to know their limitations, and to know when they can't perform safely and to remove themself from a situation where they can't perform safely.  

 

 

If the nurse showed up drunk for work that day and did everything wrong, you'd have a good comparison. If she ducked into the bathroom between patients and got high because she was stressed you'd also have a point. Those things didn't happen.
Let's make the pilot inattentive and distracted instead of drunk. That makes more sense.

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