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RaDonda Vaught’s Arraignment - Guilty or Not of Reckless Homicide and Patient Abuse?

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tnbutterfly is a BSN, RN and works as a Content/Community Director @ allnurses.

335 Likes; 13 Followers; 110 Articles; 192,321 Visitors; 5,282 Posts

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By now, most nurses have heard about RaDonda Vaught, a former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse who was charged with reckless homicide and patient abuse as a result of administering the wrong drug that killed a patient in December 2017.

RaDonda Vaught’s Arraignment - Guilty or Not of Reckless Homicide and Patient Abuse?

A group of nurses plans to appear in their scrubs at Vaught's arraignment hearing on February 20th show their support. Included in this group is Janie Harvey Garner, founder of Show Me Your Stethoscope.  

For those who are interested in showing their support by attending the arraignment, here are the details:

When?

Wednesday, February 20 @ 9:00 AM

Where?

Justice A. A. Birch Building

408 2nd Ave N,

Court Room 6D

Nashville, TN 37201

Judge: Jennifer Smith

What is Arraignment?

Once the accused is represented by counsel, the more formal part of the arraignment, the reading of the charges, takes place.  The accused is expected to enter a plea: usually guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The no-contest plea means that the accused is not admitting guilt but will not contest the charges. 

What is the verdict going to be???

In the following video, Janie Harvey Garner talks more about the arraignment process. 

Related content:

Nurse Gives Lethal Dose of Vecuronium Instead of Versed

Nurse Charged With Homicide

Nurses Call the Governor of Tennessee

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335 Likes; 13 Followers; 110 Articles; 192,321 Visitors; 5,282 Posts

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tnbutterfly is a BSN, RN and works as a Content/Community Director @ allnurses.

335 Likes; 13 Followers; 110 Articles; 192,321 Visitors; 5,282 Posts

UPDATE

About 3 dozen nurses showed up at the arraignment wearing scrubs.  Radonda introduced her supporters stating, "This is my family."

Vaught entered a not guilty plea and is already out on bail.  News sources reported that $43,000 has been raised for her legal defense.

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

1,187 Likes; 6 Followers; 62,467 Visitors; 2,567 Posts

I think this article on Fox has some telling remarks. They give me pause. I'm of the belief that the BON should move swiftly in cases as much as this, and in her case, have suspended or revoked her license. 

https://www.foxnews.com/us/nurse-charged-in-fatal-drug-swap-error-pleads-not-guilty

From the article:

Quote

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday's hearing, Vaught's attorney, Peter Strianse, called the criminal charge against the nurse "completely unfathomable." He noted that the state board of nursing has taken no action against Vaught's nursing license, which is still active.

Quote

Nurse Marguerite McBride was at the Wednesday hearing to support Vaught and said she had worked with her at a different hospital for about a year.

"She's an amazing, compassionate, caring nurse," McBride said. "Families love her. Other nurses love her."

These quotes tell me me that the defense is saying,  because the BON did nothing, then nothing should happen to Radonda.  But I say, maybe the BON in Tennessee needs to be investigated. From what we've been informed of, Radonda's errors were egregious. If anyone should be sanctioned,  she should. 

The other quote indicates that because she is likable and caring,  she should get a pass. Well, she didn't care enough to pay attention to what she was doing! And, being liked by patients and coworkers does not make one a good nurse.

I'm sure Vanderbilt is as flawed as all hospitals are, but this error falls on Radonda's shoulders pretty squarely.  Perhaps if the Tennessee BON had done their job, it wouldn't have come to this.

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Thank you for posting this to further the discussion of a case for which there is much to be learned.

49 minutes ago, Emergent said:

These quotes tell me me that the defense is saying,  because the BON did nothing, then nothing should happen to Radonda.  But I say, maybe the BON in Tennessee needs to be investigated. From what we've been informed of, Radonda's errors were egregious. If anyone should be sanctioned,  she should. 

It should be the BON's job and not the DA's or criminal court's to determine how RV should be held accountable for failing in all the ways she did to adhere to professional standards of practice. If anyone should sanction RV, it should be the BON rather than the criminal court.

50 minutes ago, Emergent said:

Well, she didn't care enough to pay attention to what she was doing! And, being liked by patients and coworkers does not make one a good nurse.

Not caring and accidentally not thinking are two very different things. Ever heard of the possibility of good people not paying attention when they should have? It happens to all of us at one time or another, and as far as I know it is humanly impossible to never enter into "auto-pilot" at some point in time in your life, even when you are doing something for which the risk requires full attention. 

I do agree bad nurses might be "liked" and good nurses "disliked" by patients and coworkers. But I reckon if people had said about her that she was always hateful and mean it might make people wonder if she'd done it on purpose (which nobody so far has thought) -- so knowing how people felt can help influence whether people conclude she made an honest mistake(s) or not.

51 minutes ago, Emergent said:

I'm sure Vanderbilt is as flawed as all hospitals are, but this error falls on Radonda's shoulders pretty squarely.  Perhaps if the Tennessee BON had done their job, it wouldn't have come to this.

I'm glad you are aware all hospitals are flawed; I don't know that, but it is very much my strong suspicion that is true because I've never seen or heard of a perfect one. Because I strongly believe that, I don't doubt there is plenty that happened in RV's working environment and circumstances leading up to the accident which contributed to the accident through no fault of her own. I agree she erred in ways where she should also be held accountable and not solely the hospital. But it's the BON's job to hold nurses accountable when they make mistakes or stray from standards of practice in the course of attempting to do their jobs in a well-meaning way. RV is not a criminal for her accident. Nurses and all caregivers deserve better than to be criminalized for accidents; their jobs entail risking their own lives and the lives of their patients in efforts to heal and save their patients. 

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I posted the following comment to mtnNurse on two other threads.  To further the discussion I thought it appropriate to post it again:

"You keep making the point that nurses brains are subject to failure because we are humans.  By your logic all workers in all types of occupations should never be charged with any crime due to their negligence unless they deliberately intended to cause harm to the public.

 Following your logic airline pilots brains are subject to failure at any moment during an 11 hour flight, and the plane could crash if the pilot gets overwhelmed or distracted.  Think of all the many, many flights that take place all over the world, just in the course of one day, yet planes aren't crashing all over the place every day.  Should we conclude that airline pilots brains function better than nurses brains?  Or do airline pilots practice to higher professional standards? Nursing isn't the only profession with a lot of stressors, distractions, and responsibility/accountability.

I just had a licensed electrician work perform some work for me.  Should I assume that he/she may be under extraordinary stressors and be unable to perform safely?  I never thought that he/she might actually have been incompetent is his/her practice or might make a mistake that would lead to him/her ignoring basic electrical safety procedures.  That perhaps he/she might be negligent to the point that I will get electrocuted.  Oh, well, I guess I will just put it down to brain failure on his/her part. In which case, what is the point of professional licensure?  If a licensed electrician can't perform their job safely why should I bother using his/her services?

Why bother to have any professional standards for any professions at all?  Why bother with licensure?  If the public can't trust that a licensed professional will be able to perform to industry standards of safety, why should they bother using the services of a licensed professional?  Then we don't have professions, because everyone does the job equally incompetently/unsafely.

If you believe that nursing is a unique profession with extraordinary stressors such that nurses are unable to concentrate on their licensed activities to the point that they are unable to perform safely and must excuse themselves due to brain failure when they inadvertently harm or kill patients due to not being able to perform safely, why should anyone have any confidence in nurses ability to perform safe care?  Why should the public go to hospitals?  

You are saying something quite terrible, that perhaps you don't realize you are saying, and that is that the public shouldn't expect to rely on licensed professionals to meet industry safety standards.  You are saying that licensed professionals shouldn't be held criminally liable for failing to meet industry safety standards; that as long as they did not deliberately intend harm they should not face criminal charges and that their lapse of judgement/unsafe performance however caused should not result in criminal charges.

I ask you a question in return, why should the public have confidence in licensed professionals?  Why should I receive nursing care from you?  Do you see where this goes?  If the general public loses confidence that they will receive safe nursing care, do you think you can take for granted that they will continue to come to the facility you work at for their care?  Do you think you might lose your job?

Licensed professions rely on the confidence of the general public.  The reason licensed professionals get paid is that the general public trust in the standards of the professions and place their trust in the licensed professionals.  If you can't provide safe nursing care why should I come to the facility you work at for my care?  If a licensed airline pilot can't fly a plane safely, meeting industry safety standards, why should I fly with that airline?  If the problem is endemic to the airline industry, why should I fly at all?" 

 

Edited by Susie2310

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

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I want to add here, I really want to begin a different angle on this case, rather than rehashing the previous discussions.  Specifically,  where was the BON in all this? They are deemed, and even cited by the defense, as being the final authority here. 

I propose that it is their failure that led to this more concerning scenario,  that of criminal charges against a nurse. This is something we all should be worried about. 

Yet, the BON didn't even put this nurse into any stipulations, not even a slap on the wrist! They failed in their duties.  Are they not accountable to anyone?

I know of 2 nurses that were either partially or fully culpable in a sentinal event leading to a patient death. One was working in a CVTICU and forgot to replace the leads on a patient and the patient arrested while unmonitored. She was placed on probation with stipulations.

The other didn't initiate O2 sat monitoring on someone with a PCA, an order the charge nurse failed to initiate, the charge was the one signing off orders, not this nurse. It was at shift change and the patient died under the responsibility of a very negligent nurse who didn't make rounds or check on patient until he was, well, cold. My friend got probation and stipulations,  the second nurse lost her license. 

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Rose_Queen is a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Staff nurse educator.

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In other threads, it has been mentioned that the TN BON meets quarterly. Therefore, as this has just recently come to light after being covered up, it is possible that the BON has not yet met and made a decision. It is also possible that they do not indicate anything is going on with a license until an investigation is complete. Regardless, something needs to happen in regards to the negligence and recklessness shown by this nurse.

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

1,187 Likes; 6 Followers; 62,467 Visitors; 2,567 Posts

2 minutes ago, Rose_Queen said:

In other threads, it has been mentioned that the TN BON meets quarterly. Therefore, as this has just recently come to light after being covered up, it is possible that the BON has not yet met and made a decision. It is also possible that they do not indicate anything is going on with a license until an investigation is complete. Regardless, something needs to happen in regards to the negligence and recklessness shown by this nurse.

Maybe this shows that the current oversight by BONs is totally inadequate. How can they possibly respond in a timely fashion in a fast paced world with a schedule that sounds like it's from the horse and buggy era?

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3 minutes ago, Emergent said:

Maybe this shows that the current oversight by BONs is totally inadequate. How can they possibly respond in a timely fashion in a fast paced world with a schedule that sounds like it's from the horse and buggy era?

I have seen a state Medical Board not revoke a physician's license until the physician was physically in jail facing serious charges.  The physician had a significant previous disciplinary record with the Medical Board.

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tnbutterfly is a BSN, RN and works as a Content/Community Director @ allnurses.

335 Likes; 13 Followers; 110 Articles; 192,321 Visitors; 5,282 Posts

21 minutes ago, Rose_Queen said:

In other threads, it has been mentioned that the TN BON meets quarterly. Therefore, as this has just recently come to light after being covered up, it is possible that the BON has not yet met and made a decision. It is also possible that they do not indicate anything is going on with a license until an investigation is complete. Regardless, something needs to happen in regards to the negligence and recklessness shown by this nurse.

In the news today following the arraignment, it was stated that the TN BON, after a nine-month long investigation, found no reason to take disciplinary action against RaDonda’s license. I will be posting another video in this thread that gives more information about this.

Merging this discussion with another thread about the arraignment was started yesterday.

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

1,187 Likes; 6 Followers; 62,467 Visitors; 2,567 Posts

20 minutes ago, tnbutterfly said:

In the news today following the arraignment, it was stated that the TN BON, after a nine-month long investigation, found no reason to take disciplinary action against RaDonda’s license. I will be posting another video in this thread that gives more information about this.

Merging this discussion with another thread about the arraignment was started yesterday.

Wow, that is ridiculous. No wonder the prosecutor pursued this. 

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