Former nurse RaDonda Vaught sentenced to 3 years probation
by: Brittney Baird, Stephanie Langston
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught was sentenced to three years supervised probation in a Davidson County courtroom Friday after she was convicted of negligent homicide in the 2017 death of 75-year-old Charlene Murphey.
Vaught’s probation is to be served with judicial diversion, meaning her conviction could be dismissed following a successful probation period.
She was found guilty by a jury in March on two charges. On the count of reckless homicide, she was found guilty on a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult.
Vaught was accused of administering a fatal dose of the wrong medication. She admitted to using the wrong medication but pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2019.
Charlene Murphey, of Gallatin, was waiting for a standard scan at Vanderbilt Medical Center in 2017 when she was killed by a fatal dose of the wrong medication. Investigators found Vaught was supposed to administer a sedative for her comfort, but instead she is accused of giving Murphy a different medication that causes paralysis.
Vaught has said she was “distracted” when she overrode a safety feature on the automated medication dispenser, failing to catch a number of red flags between the time she grabbed the medication and gave it to the patient.
Murphey’s family has forgiven Vaught four years later, but is still searching for peace.
“We forgive her. My mother in law would want her to be forgiven and jail time is not an option to me for her. In the past four and a half years, our family has been waiting and it would have been nice to have heard ‘I’m sorry’ come out of her mouth and it hasn’t,” Chandra Murphey said from the stand.
Vaught cried during much of the testimony, apologizing to the family as soon as she took the stand and reassuring them that Charlene Murphey will never be forgotten.
“Words along will never fully express the remorse and sorrow for my actions in the horrific loss of Charlene Murphey’s life,” Vaught cried.
Vaught’s case has captured national attention on social media with hundreds of thousands people following the trial proceedings.
Following the verdict, the American Nurses Association released a statement saying that the trial could create a precedent that would ultimately endanger patients if the criminalization of medical errors has “a chilling effect on reporting and process improvement.”
A rally was held by nurses and health care workers Friday outside the courthouse prior to Vaught’s sentencing, with the crowd watching hearing proceedings online after the rally.
Judge Jennifer Smith said the court received numerous letters, calls and voicemails in relation to Vaught’s case but they cannot be considered in sentencing as it would not be appropriate.
Members of Murphey’s family took the witness stand. Charlene’s son Michael Murphey said “knowing my mom and the way she was, she wouldn’t want to see her get any jail time. She is a very forgiving person. My dad would want her to get the max.”
Charlene’s daughter-in-law Chandra Murphey said “we just feel like my mother in-law got lost in all of this,” adding her family just wants peace and closure.
“We forgive her and jail time is not an option to me for her,” said Chandra Murphey.
Multiple nurses who worked with Vaught then took the stand to vouch for her professionalism as a nurse and quality as a friend.
Vaught then stood before the court and gave a lengthy apology to Murphey’s family along with her own personal statement on how the case has impacted her as a nurse and a person.
“I have lost far more than my nursing license and career. I will never be the same person. When Mrs. Murphey died, part of me died with her,” said Vaught.
Vaught concluded her statement with asking the judge for leniency in her sentencing. She can never be employed in the medical field again.