Former Tennessee nurse sentenced to 3 years probation in patient medication death

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — RaDonda Vaught, the former Tennessee nurse whose medication error killed a patient more than four years ago, was sentenced to three years of probation on Friday.

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Vaught’s probation will be served with judicial diversion, WKRN-TV reported. That means her conviction could be dismissed after a successful probation period.

In March, Vaught was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult, WTVF reported.

Nashville Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith imposed the sentence after Vaught apologized to Charlene Murphey’s relatives, the television station reported.

“I’ll be forever haunted by my role in her untimely passing,” Vaught told the woman’s family in court. “She did not deserve that.”

The probation will be concurrent instead of consecutive, WTVF reported.

“My hope that changes in the practices and protocols in the medical setting that have arisen since this event may at least be some positive aspect that has arisen. And going forward, I hope it prevents this type of situation from happening again,” Smith said in court.

“I recognize however, that will never be enough to heal your wounds,” the judge added, speaking to the victim’s family.

Prosecutors had argued against diversion but were not opposed to probation, according to The Associated Press.

>> Deadly mistake: Former nurse found guilty in patient’s death

Murphey, 75, of Gallatin, died in Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s intensive care unit on Dec. 27, 2017, after being injected with the wrong drug, The Tennessean reported. Murphey was waiting for a standard scan and was supposed to receive a dose of Versed, which is a sedative. Instead, Vaught was accused of injecting Murphey with vecuronium, a paralytic that left her unable to breathe, according to USA Today.

Vaught has said she was “distracted” when she overrode a safety feature on the automated medication dispenser, failing to catch several red flags between the time she grabbed the medication and gave it to Murphey, WKRN reported.

“It (the case) was like a rollercoaster,” Knoxville nurse Tina Vinsant told The Tennessean. “But that was the very best outcome we could have hoped for today.”

Murphey’s relatives said they were satisfied with Vaught’s sentence, the newspaper reported.

“Knowing my mom, the way my mom was and stuff, she wouldn’t want to see her serve no jail time,” Michael Murphy told the court. “That’s just Mom. Mom was a very forgiving person.”

“We didn’t want jail time,” Murphey’s daughter-in-law, Chandra Murphey, told reporters outside the Davidson County court. “We just wanted to make sure she didn’t do this to anyone else.”


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