Ethical dilemmas in healthcare,  Nurse,  Nursing education,  Nursing Profession,  Seasoned nurses,  stress in nursing,  Uncategorized

Nurses Need to Be the Change!

I recently had the privilege to attend a Zoom session hosted by Lorie A. Brown RM, MN, JD of Empowered Nurses. The guest speaker was RaDonda Vaught, the former Tennessee nurse who was convicted in 2022 of criminally negligent homicide after injecting the patient with the wrong medication. This was after the Tennessee BON cleared her in 2020 and told her they “had bigger fish to fry.” How and why that changed two years later needs your attention!  You can watch the replay of the Zoom session. I encourage all nurses to watch the replay and to share it with colleagues and co-workers. Learn how Nurses Need to Be the Change!

It is rare that nurses are ever criminally charged, much less convicted in medication errors. Listen to RaDonda recount the events leading up to the fatal error, and the subsequent investigations and the trial. The American Nurses Association weighed in at the time of the guilty verdict stating, “The criminalization of medical errors is unnerving, and this verdict sets into motion a dangerous precedent.”

There’s More to the Story….

Be aware of the events leading up to the medication error that resulted in the unfortunate death of Charlene Murphey. There were staffing issues which put RaDonda into a situation where she shouldn’t have been. A relatively new medication dispensing system was malfunctioning as it apparently did frequently, and overrides were all too common in everyday practice instead of fixing the system. The hospital ignored the staff’s complaints about this system. Protocols were ignored.

The hospital, Vanderbilt University Hospital,  neglected to report the Sentinel Event (death) to Medicare and consequently filed no Plan of Correction which led to a renewed focus on the event as possible Medicare fraud. RaDonda clearly admits her guilt in the role she played in this tragic event, but was she thrown under the bus? Was this another case of the hospital making the nurse the scapegoat for their own incompetence and neglect?

Heed the Wake-Up Call

To charge a nurse with homicide without offering up any possible ways to correct and avoid another event in the future is terrifying! It’s a strong wake-up call to all nurses to review their own practice methods to ensure the safety of patients as well as themselves. Vanderbilt was not charged, not punished for anything in this case.

Nurses need to stand up for themselves and their colleagues. It’s time to say absolutely NO to unsafe practices including frequently malfunctioning equipment and applications as well as inadequate staffing. Saying NO to any unsafe situation needs to be the expected norm, and no longer be ignored for fear of retribution and bullying. A huge part of why there is still a “shortage of nurses” is that nurses have left the profession or refuse to work for employers who don’t support the safe practice by nurses and safety for nurses. They have a choice and have said NO! Nurses Need to Be the Change!

Please take the time to watch this replay and reinforce how you need to protect yourself and your license.

Check out Lorie A. Brown’s new book, Code New, at her website.

kathy signature