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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

Mistakes happen. Some devastating as was this one. Everyone needs to remember that Nurses are human, and are not perfect. If I remember correctly she was put in a situation that she was not familiar with. As nurses, we are put in these situations and when we speak up about being out of our comfort zones we are not listened to. Been there myself. Just really fortunate I never made a devastating mistake such as this. Just tragic. 

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I try to never give Versed without being able to monitor a patient. If the hospital had a policy to protect any patient given a medication that has the potential to depress respirations, this could have turned in a different direction. Maybe policies need looked at. 

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6 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

Which is why she isn't being charged with murder.

Thank you, Wuzzie.  For goodness sake....she isn't being charged with murder.

And to whomever it was who said..."where is the precedent to charge her with this crime?"

Um.....you do not need a precedent to charge someone with a crime. You simply need an incident that....oh....you know...BREAKS THE LAW.

It's emotional and I get it. I just watched ZDogg, who I really think is an amazing person for what he does with his podcasts and such---and he is a RABID defender of nurses---he just did two rants on this, defending Redonda Vaught...

His arguments were NOT legally based. They were emotional. "What about the smidgen of morale left in healthcare if we start making lethal mistakes a crime??"

This isn't about emotion. This is about the law. In TN, "reckless homicide" is the same as in some other state that charges someone with "involuntary manslaughter".  The definition is the same. YOU DID NOT INTEND ON KILLING SOMEONE, but your actions were negligent to the point that the person died.

Everybody agrees, no matter how they dance around it, that Ms. Vaught bypassed the BASIC safety protocol of MAKING SURE SHE HAD THE RIGHT DRUG IN HER HAND BEFORE SHE PUSHED IT THROUGH THE IV.

How complex is this? I read the label twice. TWICE. Before I give anything. When I am in a procedure with a doc?  I put the bottle up to their face, and make them read it before I allow them to puncture the bottle. 

I learned this as a student in my other healthcare job, when we would do myelograms and were sticking needles into someone's spine with lidocaine and oil based contrast material. READ THE DAMNED LABEL.

I don't care if she was a nurse of 2 years or 200 years. She didn't afford that patient the basic rights of being sure of what drug she was being given. The patient died.

The idea that you cannot slow the hell down and read a label while you are pulling from the pyxis...that you are literally running with your hair on fire FOR A CONSCIOUS SEDATION PATIENT THAT IS SITTING AROUND, BREATHING , NO DISTRESS---and you cannot take the time to read a label?

That is the definifition of negligent, and according TO THE LAW, "reckless homicide" is when you are AWARE (and being a nurse, if she was not aware that every single damned drug she ever gives to anyone is a potential to be lethal...and she doesn't get it that she needs to....oh.....ASSESS EFFICACY....she needs to not be a nurse) that your behavior may endanger another, and you do it anyway.

She was aware that even had she given Versed....the sedation effects on a person with a brain bleed (THIS WAS NEURO ICU, folks.) are profound and need to be monitored.

"Horrible, bad decisions"  isn't that...oh....a mistake?  When I decided to rob that bank because my grandma needs her cataract surgery---and I don't hurt anybody---do I get a pass for having great intentions, but bad judgement and a bonus gold star for not shooting anybody?

What people here are getting so hot over is that they don't feel that nurses  and doctors should be held to a higher standard.

WE ARE, and WE SHOULD BE.  We are doing things to these patients that are incomprehensibly difficult and complex. We need to know what we're doing and why. Would you allow a Med Student to do your brain surgery???

The excuses I am hearing is, she's a newbie. Then she shouldn't have been precepting. She shouldn't have been a float nurse (resource). 

I know my limitations. I would no sooner get onto a chopper and pretend to be a flight nurse than I would going into the OR and pretending to be a First Assist.  I AM NOT QUALIFIED NOR AM I EXPERIENCED.  Ms. Vought, if the apologists here say that hey....she was just inexperienced. she didn't know.

Did you learn the 5Rights in school? I did. I know she did. Then she knew. If she wasn't experienced enough to be a resource nurse, which seems to be something that nobody gets---you need EXPERIENCE to do that job. You need to be knowledgable on so many levels---and she was not. She should have known that....and I bet she did.

I read a few of her NOW DELETED instagram and twitter comments about the dangerous life she likes to lead----"Rock out with your glock out"?? 

Bad judgement goes from A to Z with some people. I don't even have a facebook page, let alone Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram...and I certainly don't publish my life for all to see---only to have to feel like I need to go an delete everything because now---the world gets to read my verbal vomit on the internet.

Just because you passed Nursing school doesn't make you a wonderful human being, or one with good, trustworthy judgement. It's not a testament to ALL nurses---but nursing is simply a microcosm of humanity at large.

There are good ones, and there  are not so good ones. She clearly didn't practice anywhere near the standards that are required of this positon.

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6 minutes ago, J.Mathis said:

I try to never give Versed without being able to monitor a patient. If the hospital had a policy to protect any patient given a medication that has the potential to depress respirations, this could have turned in a different direction. Maybe policies need looked at. 

What would be the point of more policies? She ignored the ones that were already in place.

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10 minutes ago, J.Mathis said:

I try to never give Versed without being able to monitor a patient. 

As any good nurse should. If there are any nurses here who routinely administer this drug without monitoring the patient please stand up and let us know.  We'd like to hear your rationale. Seriously, if the nurse had done the MINIMAL assessment required, if not by policy by good nursing judgement, when giving Versed this patient would not have died. For crying out loud she had been in the ICU for 2 years. She was not a fresh new grad. 

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5 hours ago, adventure_rn said:

I so agree.

This whole story reminds me so much of the nurse at Seattle Children's who committed suicide after a med error killed a baby (she accidentally gave 10 times the dose of calcium chloride). Instead of completing a root cause analysis, the hospital quickly fired her. This was an amazing critical care nurse with decades of experience on the unit.

Even if this person made a huge med error, I'm sure the guilt is already destroying her life. I don't see how a homicide charge would benefit anyone in this scenario.  

Although I understand your emotional response, allow me to ask you---should we have laws then, that only discern whether you "intended" on harming someone and if you say you didn't "mean to do it", should you be automatically absolved?

The law is complex for a reason. There are varying degrees of culpability, and the law recognizes that.

The nurse that drew up the CaCl was not prosecuted, she was fired. For a medication calculation error and resulting death. Yes. I feel sorry for her. I found it horrible that she could not recover from her trauma of the incident.

Med calc errors happen quite often, and nobody is the wiser. I see nurses do it all the time. Draw up 10mL instead of 8mL of some "harmless" drug. NS can push a HF patient into resp arrest. I've watched nurses slam a 1L bag because the doctor ordered it---and never once looked at the chart to see....oh....can that patient take it? do i need a pump? 

It's why we have Pharmacy at every code now. Every single one. Even intubations. THEY draw up the meds and hand them to me. They are clearly labeled. I ask to see the bottle. Sometimes, I watch them pull if I have enough attention to spare. I use closed loop communication. "Is this vecuronium?"  "Yes, that is 20 of vecuronium."  "20 of Vecuronium being given." "20 of vecuronium is in."  Fifteen people get to listen to me talk and ....is there a word for 15x checks on my math?

This isn't even close to the case at hand...she pulled this drug up on her own, with NO CHECKS WHATSOEVER. None. Not one. No reading the label she held in her hand while she reconstituted it (and any nurse in a Neuro ICU or anyplace near "resource" nurse would know....VERSED doesn't NOT NEED TO BE RECONSTITUTED), no reading the order, no basic safety protocols for sedation, no re-assessment, no monitoring after administering a benzo.

When my unit orders me to bring ativan to MRI?  Guess who gets to plug a monitor on that pt and sit her butt down for an hour? Because it is common sense as well as safety protocol. I learned the common sense part in nursing school when they said.....don't sedate a patient and then walk away....no breathing is a bad thing.

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3 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

As any good nurse should. If there are any nurses here who routinely administer this drug without monitoring the patient please stand up and let us know.  We'd like to hear your rationale. Seriously, if the nurse had done the MINIMAL assessment required, if not by policy by good nursing judgement, when giving Versed this patient would not have died. For crying out loud she had been in the ICU for 2 years. She was not a fresh new grad. 

I’d have to agree. Even anesthesiologists make similar mistakes and I’ve heard horror stories. You see them with a bunch of syringes in hand ready to push meds for whatever effect they wanted and I’ve been told of an incident when rocuronium was injected instead of fentanyl. The difference was the person who gave the wrong med was right there witnessing the effect of the drug and acted accordingly without the patient suffering from the consequence of the mistake.

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I know the family was quite remarkable for showing compassion and saying their loved one would have forgiven the nurse. I just shudder at the thought of a person known to be anxious while in an enclosed space unable to move, hyperventilate, or scream. What a horrible way to die.

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Also, Versed is a procedural drug. Why in the world did the doctor order  Versed instead of Ativan or Haldol?  It sounds like there was plenty of standard protocol deviations going on.

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1 minute ago, hyllisR said:

Also, Versed is a procedural drug. Why in the world did the doctor order  Versed instead of Ativan or Haldol?  It sounds like there was plenty of standard protocol deviations going on.

Versed has a shorter half-life.

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4 minutes ago, hyllisR said:

Also, Versed is a procedural drug. Why in the world did the doctor order  Versed instead of Ativan or Haldol?  It sounds like there was plenty of standard protocol deviations going on.

It’s not far off to order Versed. It’s shorter acting than Ativan. Atypical antipsychotics like Haldol would be a bizarre choice for a patient who is totally alert, oriented, and only complaining of being nervous inside enclosed spaces.

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44 minutes ago, HomeBound said:

This isn't about emotion. This is about the law. In TN, "reckless homicide" is the same as in some other state that charges someone with "involuntary manslaughter".  The definition is the same. YOU DID NOT INTEND ON KILLING SOMEONE, but your actions were negligent to the point that the person died.
 

[.......]

The idea that you cannot slow the hell down and read a label while you are pulling from the pyxis...that you are literally running with your hair on fire FOR A CONSCIOUS SEDATION PATIENT THAT IS SITTING AROUND, BREATHING , NO DISTRESS---and you cannot take the time to read a label?

[....]

 

1. Agreed. Fine.

2. Agreed. I personally think that corporate culture (the real one, not the one advertised in their version of glossies) should support your idea much more robustly!  I think, as in my department, CMS should be disallowed from financially incentivizing speed. "Hair on fire" is almost always due to corporate demand, and much less often due to patient necessity. Witness any ED and my point will be inarguably proven. And I think that nurses should have recourse for that beyond "find a new job if you don't like it" and that Mr. Glenn R. Funk should be as concerned about that as he is this. 

 

 

Edited by JKL33

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