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Nurse Charged With Homicide

Nurses   (38,539 Views 676 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

333 Likes; 10 Followers; 81 Articles; 224,760 Visitors; 1,685 Posts

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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
      366
    • She deserved to be charged
      106

472 members have participated

5 Likes; 79 Visitors; 1 Post

It's been interesting reading everyone's point of view. There are very passionate arguments on both sides! For me, what it boils down to is pattern. If I was on her jury, I would want to know what has she been like as a nurse for these years. There was a nurse at a place I worked at who accidentally gave someone 100 units of insulin. She was drawing up heparin at the same time as insulin. The patient ended up ok and the RN was horrified of the mistake she had made.

There was another nurse at this place I worked with who gave someone a different benzo. Lorazepam instead of Alprazolam. The patient had both meds. The nurse just pulled the wrong one. The patient was fine. The nurse basically just brushed the mistake under a rug.

Nobody died, the patients were fine, but what was different about these two for me was the nurse. The RN who gave the insulin had a few years of experience and had shown she was a normally excellent nurse. She just made a terrible mistake. The RN who gave the wrong benzo was different. She was a nurse who made mistakes in all aspects of nursing. I won't go into details, but she was just a generally bad nurse.

If these situations had ended up very badly and the nurses were charged by the D.A., their histories would matter to me. There are good nurses who sometimes make bad mistakes. There are also bad nurses who make bad mistakes.

This nurse who gave Verconium instead of Versed made numerous errors. I don't think anyone is debating that. But what has she been like as a nurse? A good one who made a bad mistake, or a bad nurse whose mistake ended in a death? That makes a huge difference. Whether or not she should be charged is really for me not a debate anymore. She has been charged. I assume especially with all the publicity it will be going to trial. She has admitted to it. What matters is what comes out in court and what the ultimate penalty will be.

Do I think she should go to jail? No, but there has to be some accountability depending on what her history has been like. If she is a good nurse who made a terrible mistake, I would hope it would eventually just end in a probation, supervision at work, or training. I'm not sure how that works. But if she has a history of being a generally bad nurse, losing a license might be in the best interest of all future patients she could have.

Btw, I have been a long time lurker on this site. I haven't really posted, but I love this site! I'm learned so much from all you nurses😀

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12 hours ago, klua said:

Do I think she should go to jail? No, but there has to be some accountability depending on what her history has been like. If she is a good nurse who made a terrible mistake, I would hope it would eventually just end in a probation, supervision at work, or training. I'm not sure how that works. But if she has a history of being a generally bad nurse, losing a license might be in the best interest of all future patients she could have.

 

But she didn't make just one. 

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

333 Likes; 10 Followers; 81 Articles; 224,760 Visitors; 1,685 Posts

Breaking news: The Institute for Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) 

supports Rodonda Vaught (RV).

In a statement released today, the ISMP:

  • Believes we have an obligation to change the culture of blame, abandonment, and isolation towards second victims
  • States there were no effective systems in place to prevent removing and administering a neuromuscular blockade after override
  • Does not believe criminal action will improve safety
  • Urges leaders to be accountable, avoid the severity bias and establish a Just Culture

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19 hours ago, Crow31 said:

 Stuff pops up all the time even when we chart and get certain medications. My suggestion is just that a suggestion. Here's how the code would work. 1. Pick the paralytic you want. 2. Now a hard stop pops up something like "Paralytic  code required" 3. Enter Code    Maybe not a practical idea using a code, but the concept still remains. There needs to be a hard stop with certain medications. I mean crap I have a hard stop to put in a pain scale when I give Tylenol. 

That is a problem.

Using multiple hard stops and pop-ups and messages to meet billing and regulatory goals and having them all mixed in with the safety messages we are supposed to be receiving is a major issue.

In this case the messaging on the ADC when she went to take the vecuronium said something like [it] was only to be used for a STAT order. That use of "warnings" is as good as no message at all. It requires no interaction (I'm familiar with having to answer a question about whether the patient is ventilated when removing such meds) - and what kind of messaging is that, anyway? Used with a STAT order? Right up until auto-profiling, anything you wanted sometime today had to be entered as either "NOW" or "STAT." It's just like the override issue - used so often that is disingenuous to suddenly act like it was supposed to be a safety measure. 

And why create a message like "only for STAT order" when you could use that space tosay "CAUSES RESPIRATORY ARREST."  Better yet, make it interactive. "CAUSES RESPIRATORY ARREST. Is this patient's ventilation being supported? Y/N"

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Emergent has 25 years experience and works as a Emergency Room RN.

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I think that's a big problem,  that we are getting bombarded with constant warnings and alerts, many of which are redundant. We end up tuning them out because that's what the human brain does.

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

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10 hours ago, Nurse Beth said:

Breaking news: The Institute for Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) 

supports Rodonda Vaught (RV).

In a statement released today, the ISMP:

  • Believes we have an obligation to change the culture of blame, abandonment, and isolation towards second victims
  • States there were no effective systems in place to prevent removing and administering a neuromuscular blockade after override
  • Does not believe criminal action will improve safety
  • Urges leaders to be accountable, avoid the severity bias and establish a Just Culture

At last -- a voice of reason!

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On 2/9/2019 at 12:45 AM, HomeBound said:

The other thing that is really ticking me off is the deletion of her twitter, facebook, snapchat and all that social media--

her lawyer is advising her well. Why?

Why is her lawyer advising her well??  Because they are her lawyer.  Same as not being interrogated without your lawyer present, or your right to not self-incriminate.  It doesn't mean you are hiding something...its just what you do.  Its what lawyers advise.  (And yeah, her social media probably wasn't much fun for her anyway, if she was getting hate messages since all the attention in the news.)

On 2/9/2019 at 12:45 AM, HomeBound said:

Put the phones down, folks. Just a word from an old timer. It's getting really, really disgustingly annoying to those of us who turn the phone off and do the job--to see you all on your phones. It's going to be a big thing at this point, that when a nurse is involved in these mistakes, their social media crap is going to be entered into evidence. IT SHOULD BE.

If Radonda is found to have been diddling on her phone during the hour this woman was dying? 

Maybe THAT is exactly what tipped the prosecutor's office to charge her. Just a thought.

put the phones away.


This whole "put the phones away" thing is a red herring though.  (And reminds me of those folks who write "put your phone away" in the comment section of every. single. report. of a car accident that they know nothing about, as if there never existed any driving distractions prior to the advent of the cell phone.  Giant foldable maps, anyone?  How about trying to find the cassette tape you are looking for in the glove box?)

The phone thing is pure speculation, first of all.  And if something as peripheral as the use of her phone is a real concern, then staffing issues and a culture of constantly operating on the edge of chaos in the name of "efficiency" should be even bigger concerns.

But it isn't about system error, right?  It's about her failing to exercise basic nursing prudence, right?

Edited by Julius Seizure

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It would help if there was more human interaction. A computer can't talk. There should be a code that needs to be obtained and questioned about by the pharmacist. I am certain that would help a nurse that isn't thinking straight and it could also cut down on nurses that take meds for their own purposes. It could even stop nurses that kill patients deliberately. 

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indienurse has 2 years experience as a MSN.

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8 hours ago, Ruby Vee said:

At last -- a voice of reason!

🙂 

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On 2/6/2019 at 9:16 AM, magellan said:

There's a lot of horror stories when there is no nurse patient ratio being implemented across the board. That's why this things are happening again and again when it comes to the delivery of medications much more during the crucial period of patient's lives. At the present time, I'm practicing nursing in the State of California and we are just fortunate that the patients are given quality care as compared to other states that doesn't employ such ruling.  Hopefully, the nurse patient ratio law should be implemented in the continental US asap to avoid fatal errors in all aspect of care.

While I'd be the first to agree with this statement of needing nurse patient ratio laws across the U.S, I vehemently disagree with the notion that the entire State of California gives their patients a higher quality of care in comparison to all other states.  I've practiced in several states and to me California hospitals have the greatest varied difference in quality of care between separate institutions that lie within the same region than any other state I've practiced in. 

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juan de la cruz has 27 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and works as a Adult Critical Care Nurse Practitioner.

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5 hours ago, gcupid said:

While I'd be the first to agree with this statement of needing nurse patient ratio laws across the U.S, I vehemently disagree with the notion that the entire State of California gives their patients a higher quality of care in comparison to all other states.  I've practiced in several states and to me California hospitals have the greatest varied difference in quality of care between separate institutions that lie within the same region than any other state I've practiced in. 

The variability in quality of care I do agree on. Maybe what was meant was that there are strong union protections in many hospitals. For instance, nurses can fill out an "Assignment Despite Objection" form as a way to tell the manager that "yes, I'm not going to abandon my patients but you're putting me in an unsafe situation and you can be held liable if something were to happen".

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indienurse has 2 years experience as a MSN.

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4 hours ago, gcupid said:

While I'd be the first to agree with this statement of needing nurse patient ratio laws across the U.S, I vehemently disagree with the notion that the entire State of California gives their patients a higher quality of care in comparison to all other states.  I've practiced in several states and to me California hospitals have the greatest varied difference in quality of care between separate institutions that lie within the same region than any other state I've practiced in. 

Maybe this incident will force other states to follow California's nurse ratio. 

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