Reflection: RaDonda Vaught Trial


If you haven’t heard about the RaDonda Vaught trial, you can read my recent blog post. She is a nurse who was criminally tried for an unintentional medical error. There is rightful concern for the precedent this could set for the future of nursing.

Charlene Murphey

Charlene Murphey, 75 years old, was the women who passed from the medical error. I saw a great set of stories from Patrick Mc, RN on Instagram that made me really think about how we present our frustrations from the criminal charges and show our support for RaDonda. He pointed out the importance of saying Charlene Murphey’s name, and not losing sight of the tragedy of her unnecessary death. As nurses, we are above seeing patient’s as a number. And the unnecessary grief and pain of her family and friends. I truly send love to the family of Charlene Murphey and I am so truly sorry the system failed her and them. It is something I hope we will continue to work on to make healthcare safer for both staff and patients.


It seems to be the general consensus RaDonda did not deserve to have criminal charges. It’s also a general consensus she made a very grave, negligent mistake. She is not a murderer. She was a caring nurse. She made an honest mistake. It’s important to use this as a way to better our practice as nurses and the system we nurse in. It’s important to not lose just culture in the healthcare system to help keep patients safe. Healthcare workers having the fear of reporting an error is terming.

Vanderbilt did not report the error appropriately. A surgeon put the cause of death as a brain bleed. They only reported and began to make appropriate changes when CMS threatened to pull funding. They are not being charged. The only person being charged, is the nurse who was honest, ethical, and admitted her error. She is being used as the scapegoat for the hospital. And it should scare every nurse that a Medical Error could fall as solely the fault of the nurse. If you think “I would never do xyz.” You could. We all have made mistakes or had near misses. Thankfully, most of them do not result in death. So while you may not give the wrong med, there could be another error. And the hospital could hold you reliable. And you could go to criminal court. It’s something we all should be concerned with.

Future of Nursing

The American Nurse Association  released a statement that actually agreed with what most nurses are fearing at this moment. They stated, ““We are deeply distressed by this verdict and the harmful ramifications of criminalizing the honest reporting of mistakes.” They go on to say health care delivery is highly complex and mistakes are inevitable and systems can fail. Mistakes are inevitable and it’s unrealistic to think otherwise. This verdict sets a dangerous precedent in motion.

I have read, listened, and received messages about nurses concerned about the future of nursing and their livelihood. Nurses considering leaving the bedside or nursing all togehter. They say there is an uneasiness on the floor after this verdict. I agree she made a terrible mistake. Ms. Murphey died in a horrible way. Her family has suffered. There should be repercussion, investigations, and changes to a very broken system. BUT, she should have never been charged criminally. This sets a terrifying precedent.

Self Care

During times of high stress, it’s important to take care of yourself and practice self care. Nursing has felt unstable for the past 3 years, and this is just another nail in the coffin. Check out my blog post with journal prompts & guided deep breathing for a dose of self care. If finding a way to advocate for one of our own and the nursing profession- see my blog post Verdict: Vaught Trial & What You Can Do. If you need a safe space to talk to other nurses, please consider joining our Nurses Supporting Nurses: Support Group. If you need a safe space to talk one to one, I’m happy to talk to you via messaging or video- whatever you are comfortable with. If you need space away from the news, media, social, and this general discussion, that’s okay too.

One of the best forms of self care is knowing when to protect your mental health and limit you intake of information. As many things do, this case has exploded on Social Media I see the turmoil starting among both lay people and nurses. I’ll be stepping away from public discussions/posts on it, at least for now. I suspect I will be back with another post around the sentencing.

How are you right now? Sending everyone love & light.

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Melissa Weaver


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