RaDonda Vaught Criminal Trial

Today we are discussing a criminal trial against a nurse that began yesterday, Monday March 21, 2022 in Tennessee.


Charlene Murphey, 75 was waiting for a standard scan at Vanderbilt Medical Center is 2017 when she was given a fatal dose of the wrong medication.

RaDonada Vaught, a nurse working at Vanderbilt, pulled the medication from the Accudose (medication) machine. The medication order was not coming up under the patient- so she had to perform an override. This is when the nurse is able to search all or most of the medications in the system.  She typed in “VE” to search the medications and selected the first medication to pop up on the list- Vecuronium. The medication she was looking to give was Versed. Vecuronium is a paralytic, meaning it paralyzes your body. When the body is paralyzed- a person is still awake, but unable to breath because the muscles are paralyzed. Versed, the medication she was trying to pull- is a sedative. The intent was to give Murphey Versed, a medication to help sedate and relax her for her scan.

Vaught states she checked the back of the vial, but not the front or top that had warning labels. She did not scan the medication under the advise of her Unit Manager because she was off her unit. Vaught administered the medication, causing the patient die. She was unable to move or talk, so they were unaware she had been given the wrong medication. Truly a terrible and tragic situation.

Vaught was fired from Vanderbilt Medical Center and The Tennessee Board of Nursing unanimously voted to revoke Vaught’s nursing license and fined her $3,000 in July 2021.


Monday, the criminal trial started against Vaught. She is being charge with reckless homicide and impaired adult abuse. She faces more than ten years in prison if convicted. Yesterday was jury selection and opening arguments are set to begin today. Nurses were in attendance yesterday to show their support to Vaught. Murphey’s son said despite what happened, he has forgiven Vaught because that is what his mother would do. Murphey’s son stated, “I’m not a guy that sees an eye for an eye. Regardless, I don’t think anybody would intentionally do that so I forgive her.” The family has stated they do not want criminal charges brought against Vaught.


The error and outcome serves as a reminder to all nurses and people in healthcare to remember the importance of thoroughly checking orders, medications, using safety checks, etc. Sadly, lack of staffing, system failures, etc.- can all lead to medical errors. And sometimes, medical errors can lead to death. I truly hope and pray the family of Murphey will find peace.

This trial raises several concerns for the future of the nursing profession. This is the first time a nurse has ever face criminal charges for a medical error done without intent. We have heard the horror stories of doctors and nurses who intentionally cause harm. But an unintentional medical error has never been to criminal trial. “The Nurse Erica”on social media is attending the trials to provide updates via Tik Tok & Instagram. “If nurses know they can be criminally prosecuted when there is no ill intent why would they continue being a nurse, why would they go into the nursing profession,” Erica questioned. There is also concern for underreporting of medical errors due to fear of criminal charges. A safer environment is created for both healthcare professionals and patients when medial errors can be admitted without fear of criminal charges.

This really is a tragic situation and I am praying for all involved, including Nurse Vaught. I will continue to update as this trial develops.

Are you following the trial? What are your thoughts?