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Nurse Conviction for Fatal Error vs System Harm

April 5, 2022

Summary: A nurse mistakenly gives an incorrect drug that kills a patient, and is convicted of homicide. Our system kills up to 100,000 a year due to un- and under-insurance, and nobody is indicted. Where is the justice and sense of proportion? Our inaction is outrageous.

Why Nurses Are Raging and Quitting After the RaDonda Vaught Verdict
KHN (Kaiser Health News)
April 5, 2022
By Brett Kelman and Hannah Norman

Vaught, who worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, was convicted in the death of Charlene Murphey, a 75-year-old patient who died from a drug mix-up in 2017. Murphey was prescribed a dose of a sedative, Versed, but Vaught accidentally withdrew a powerful paralyzer, vecuronium, from an automated medication-dispensing cabinet and administered it to the patient.

Vaught was acquitted of reckless homicide but convicted of a lesser charge, criminally negligent homicide, and gross neglect of an impaired adult. 

Comment by: Jim Kahn

A nurse in a university hospital was convicted of unintentionally killing a patient due to a medication error. She’ll likely get 8 years in prison.

Yet those who defend our dysfunctional health insurance system and extract tens of billions in profits by restricting access to care are causing 100,000 excess deaths per year. Do they know of these horrendous effects? They must; it’s plain to see in the stories and research (eg, here and here).

Where is justice? Proportionality? Common sense? Humanity?

I’m sick about our indifference to large-scale systematic harm. We punish one nurse for her inadvertent, if tragic, error. We protect and enable those who cause deaths on a massive scale.


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