RaDonda Vaught sentenced to 3-year probation for medication error death

By Brian Ward

RaDonda Vaught, the former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse who accidentally gave a patient a fatal dose of the wrong medicine, was sentenced to three years of supervised probation with no jail time. In March, Vaught was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult. The case has created a national debate on the ethics and efficacy of criminalizing medical errors, often to the dismay of nurses and healthcare professionals.

"Saying I'm sorry doesn’t seem like enough but you deserve to hear that and know that I am very sorry for what happened," Vaught reportedly told Murphey’s family during the May 13 sentencing.

In 2017, Vaught mistakenly gave an elderly patient, Charlene Murphey, a paralyzing medication instead of a sedative, resulting in the patient’s death. The investigation found that Vaught overlooked several warning signs, while Vanderbilt Medical Center claimed in court that it had resolved technical problems with their medication cabinets weeks before Vaught pulled the wrong drug. Vaught potentially faced up to eight years in prison.

Davidson County criminal court Judge Jennifer Smith also granted Vaught judicial diversion, a program where first-time offenders can have their records expunged after completing their probation.

“Knowing my mom the way my mom was and stuff, she wouldn’t want to see her serve no jail time. That’s just Mom. Mom was a very forgiving person,” Michael Murphey, Charlene Murphey’s son, reportedly told the court. However, other relatives testified that her husband did want Vaught to serve time in prison.