Health care workers protest criminal sentencing of nurse in Tennessee trial

Hundreds of health care workers gathered outside a Nashville courthouse Friday to protest the sentencing of a former Tennessee nurse who faces up to eight years in prison for wrongdoing. Caused the death of a patient.

Radonda Voth was convicted in March of murder for criminal negligence and gross negligence of a disabled adult after she accidentally took the wrong medication.

The maximum sentence is unlikely, given its lack of prior offences. An introductory report rated the risk of recidivism as “low.” Vaught faces three to six years in prison based on a gross negligent conviction and one to two years on a criminal negligent homicide conviction; So at the very least, a judge can give her a three-year suspended prison sentence.


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Protest against criminal prosecution of nurses

The fact that she faces any criminal penalties whatsoever has become a rallying point for many nurses who are already sick of poor working conditions exacerbated by the pandemic. The crowd outside listened to the verdict over loudspeakers, and cheered as some of the victim’s relatives said they did not want Foote jailed.

Michael Murphy told the court: “Knowing my mother the way my mother was, she wouldn’t want to see her spend time in prison. That’s just my mom, my mom was a very forgiving person.”

Some have left bedside nursing for managerial positions, while others have left the profession altogether, saying that the risk of going to prison for a mistake made nursing intolerable. They wore purple T-shirts that read “#IAmRaDonda” and “Seek justice for nurses and patients in a broken system,” and listened to speeches from other nurses and supporters.

Alice Ellison traveled from Texas to join them. An emergency room nurse of 14 years said she broke down in tears when Bigfoot was found guilty.

“I have never felt so helpless in my 14 years,” she said. “This could be me.”

Ellison said Friday’s result could determine whether she will remain breast-feeding. She said she came to Nashville “to tell the world that criminalizing wrong, honest wrong, is not a direction we want to go.”

Janie Reed, who drove from Memphis, said she became a nurse practitioner several years ago because “her bed became dangerous…there weren’t enough nurses.”

“Normally I don’t do things like this,” she said of the protest. “I’m very excited about it. The nurses are going to prison and more people will die because they won’t report their mistakes.” Vaught reported her mistake as soon as she realized what she had done wrong.

The ruling comes a day after International Nurses Day, and Jason Anderson, of Orlando, was among the nurses coming to Nashville directly from a rally for better working conditions in Washington, DC on Thursday.

The nurses’ conditions have deteriorated for years, he said, “but it was Covid that opened our eyes.”

Vaught, 38, injected the paralytic drug vecuronium instead of the sedative Versed into 75-year-old Charlene Murphy on December 26, 2017. Vaught admitted to making numerous errors that led to the fatal injection, but defense attorneys argued that systemic problems were partly to blame. At least on Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The state’s expert witness at the trial argued that Vaught violated the standard of care expected of nurses. In addition to taking the wrong medication, she failed to read the name of the medication, didn’t notice a red warning above the medication, and didn’t stay with the patient to check for an adverse reaction, Nurse Legal Counsel Donna Jones said.

Leanna Craft, a teaching nurse in the neurological intensive care unit where Vaught worked, confirmed that it was common for nurses at the time to bypass the system in order to obtain medication. The hospital recently updated its electronic records system, which has delayed drug refunds. There was also no scanner in the imaging area to check the medication against the patient identification bracelet.

The jury found Fout not guilty of reckless murder. One of the less serious crimes listed under the original charge was criminal negligence.

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