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Nurses Call the Governor of Tennessee

Nurses   (13,792 Views 422 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.

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RNNPICU has 13 years experience.

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Wow, what a fascinaing page.  I have read all of the comments.  Initially, I wanted to be more in favor of the RN, however, when a previous poster outline all 8 of the bypasses, I cringed, like 8 times.  While reckless homicide seems so harsh, I now see why those charges could be brought about.  The difficulty for me is it could give the appearance of a dangerous precedent and may disuade some nurses from reporting errors.  

 

After reading all of these threads, something that stood out to me the most is the difficulty many of us have on separating what we know as the diffficulties of working in hospitals with chaos, etc, from an individual nurse that made several series of errors. It is hard to understand where this line is from someone who bypassed eight check points from a nurse who failed only one of the 5 rights and had multiple people additionally make the same error. It sounds like she was the only one who made the error.  

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4 minutes ago, juan de la cruz said:

Do you happen to know the chances of a prosecutor refusing to file the charge after a grand jury determined the accused should face trial?

No, I don't. But it's the prosecutor who takes the case to the grand jury in the first place. Grand juries don't just go around indicting people a year after an event. The prosecutor could have decided that it wasn't in the public interest to take this case to the grand jury in the first place. Happens every day.

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1 hour ago, Jerry Hamm said:

If this nurse is charge with MURDER and ABUSE for making an UNINTENTIONAL ERROR, this is setting a precedent in the Court system for any of us to be facing criminal charges if we make a mistake in our professional practices. 

 

She is not being charged with murder. I agree that the abuse charge is gratuitous.

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1 hour ago, Jerry Hamm said:

It is still so sad to see healthcare providers, namely nurses, who do not support each other and who are always at each other's throats like immature elementary school kids. The negative comments and the immaturity of comments from many nurses here are the some of the main reasons that our professional will never reach the level of accepted professionalism from other professionals such as medical doctors. How can the nursing board or medical board (or anyone else) ever give us independence or any other freedoms when many nurses are childish and bring nothing to this field but negativity. 

 

Except we haven't been at each other's throats. Nor have there been childish or immature comments. This has been a remarkably respectful discourse about an extremely polarizing subject. Just because we don't agree with you does not make us negative or immature. 

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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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29 minutes ago, Horseshoe said:

No, I don't. But it's the prosecutor who takes the case to the grand jury in the first place. Grand juries don't just go around indicting people a year after an event. The prosecutor could have decided that it wasn't in the public interest to take this case to the grand jury in the first place. Happens every day.

This case is going through after a grand jury already determined she should face trial, please correct me if I'm wrong. My question mainly deals with how reversible the chances are of her going to court. That's why I was asking on a previous post if we have legal experts on this forum.

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9 minutes ago, juan de la cruz said:

This case is going through after a grand jury already determined she should face trial, please correct me if I'm wrong. My question mainly deals with how reversible the chances are of her going to court. That's why I was asking on a previous post if we have legal experts on this forum.

I certainly have no idea. I do know that from time to time, charges are dropped by the prosecution even after grand jury indictment, even after a trial has begun.  But I don't have any statistics. I'm sure they are out there somewhere for anyone determined enough to check.

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47 minutes ago, RNNPICU said:

The difficulty for me is it could give the appearance of a dangerous precedent and may disuade some nurses from reporting errors.  

 

 

People keep bringing this up, as though it is an actuality and is insurmountable.  The answer in my opinion is that new methods need to be employed to prevent licensed health care practitioners from dishonestly choosing not to report their errors.  As things stand currently, many errors in care, however caused, are not reported.

Edited by Susie2310

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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and works as a Director of OB Services.

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1 hour ago, Jerry Hamm said:

If this nurse is charge with MURDER and ABUSE for making an UNINTENTIONAL ERROR, this is setting a precedent in the Court system for any of us to be facing criminal charges if we make a mistake in our professional practices. 

 

She wasn't charged with murder. She was charged with negligent homicide, which is a subset of involuntary manslaughter.

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3 hours ago, Jory said:

 

This is EXACTLY like driving drunk.  Buying alcohol is legal. Being drunk is legal.  There is no law against drinking and driving because as long as you are not drunk, you can have a couple of drinks and drive.  Even if you get a DUI, as long as you don't hurt anyone, nobody charges you with "attempted" homicide.  But...if you kill someone, yes...you do...because you made the CHOICE to break the law, the choice to put others at risk and statistics caught up with you.  They don't charge you with first degree or second degree murder because the drunk driver didn't get into the car drunk with the intent of killing someone, but they should have reasonably known they were unsafe to drive.

Same thing happened with this nurse.

A drunk driver is doing no public service in the first place by drinking. A drunk driver has no reason to cut corners in order to perform life saving interventions on others in a timely manner. A drunk driver isn't tasked with working with potentially fatal medications or people who may die without intervention in the first place. 

A much better analogy would be an ambulance driver who drives faster than the situation calls for killing a pedestrian. Negligence and recklessness on the job while managing competing demands and potentially critical situations just isnt especially comparable to negligence and recklessness undertaken for no reason at all.

Note, I still call it negligence and recklessness. You may be comfortable putting the ambulance driver in front of a judge, and though I disagree, it's admittedly debatable. But don't you see a little daylight between line of duty negligence and drunk at a party negligence?

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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, Nurse Beth said:

We must look beyond blame and focus on the multiple, underlying system failures that shape individual behavior and create the conditions under which medication errors occur.

That’s a perfect statement Nurse Beth...but based on what we know about the case, what were the system failures that shaped the way Nurse RV behaved that fateful day? How much weight do these failures carry against the burden of this nurse’s act of carelessness? Really just wondering out of curiosity in knowing people’s opinion.  

I’ve tried to be very objective around this case and really, the only reason I can come up with as to why I don’t want her to face criminal trial is out of solidarity for the profession, personal bias at past decisions of our legal system, and the fact that the BON is perfectly tasked to handle the case.

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

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I'm not sure the BON or the justice system is well tasked to deal with this type of incompetence. Apparently,  over a year after this egregious error, this woman still has an unencumbered license and is working as a nurse. Is this true, as people here have said?

I'm sorry,  but that is too slow. Whether it was exhaustion, a psychological deficit,  or something physical like a brain tumor,  this woman showed a shocking lack of capability to be a safe nurse. 

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TriciaJ has 35 years experience as a RN and works as a Retired.

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1 hour ago, RNNPICU said:

Wow, what a fascinaing page.  I have read all of the comments.  Initially, I wanted to be more in favor of the RN, however, when a previous poster outline all 8 of the bypasses, I cringed, like 8 times.  While reckless homicide seems so harsh, I now see why those charges could be brought about.  The difficulty for me is it could give the appearance of a dangerous precedent and may disuade some nurses from reporting errors.  

 

After reading all of these threads, something that stood out to me the most is the difficulty many of us have on separating what we know as the diffficulties of working in hospitals with chaos, etc, from an individual nurse that made several series of errors. It is hard to understand where this line is from someone who bypassed eight check points from a nurse who failed only one of the 5 rights and had multiple people additionally make the same error. It sounds like she was the only one who made the error.  

I do think her culpability might be somewhat limited by her work conditions.  But not completely.  She did not behave as a reasonably prudent nurse would, and her actions were too extreme to be a momentary lapse.

After reading the CMS report and looking up the Tennessee laws regarding homicide, sorry folks.  She meets criteria to be charged, if nothing else.  Now it's a balancing act for the rest of us to decide, as individuals, where to draw the line between supporting a colleague and requiring accountability of ourselves and each other.

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