NYPNU Slams RaDonda Vaught Conviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 31, 2022

CONTACT: Anna Zuccaro | [email protected]

New York Professional Nurses Union Slams RaDonda Vaught Conviction in Tennessee as Ominous Sign for Nurses Nationwide

The New York Professional Nurses Union says Vaught conviction sets alarming precedent and scapegoats nurses for negligence of powerful medical institutions 


Last week, former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse RaDonda Vaught was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult after mistakenly administering the wrong medication that killed patient Charelene Murphey in 2017. 

In response, Eileen Toback, Executive Director of the New York Professional Nurses Union, issued the following statement: 

“RaDonda Vaught’s conviction should alarm every registered nurse, nursing student, and those considering the nursing profession. This verdict sets a potentially disastrous precedent by criminalizing nurses for honest mistakes and discourages hospital staff from reporting errors.

“Vaught’s mistake was not a conscious, criminal act of homicide. Vaught never tried to hide her error — she reported it immediately to the physician in charge of her patient. Medication errors are relatively common in hospitals. The idea that a single nurse is being punished for the compounded mistakes of hospital officials, administration, and physicians should not be lost on anyone. 

“There are several factors, human and systemic, that likely contributed to the patient Charelene Murphey’s tragic death outside of Vaught’s mistake.  Several important factors were not considered: The physician on call ordered that Murphey could go to a PET scan unmonitored — the medication error would have been apparent and addressed immediately if the patient had been monitored. Further, two neurologists noted on Murphey’s death record that her death was the result of “natural causes'', not a medication error.  The error was known yet clearly obscured by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. How is Vaught exclusively culpable? 

“People, as well as the systems we design, are fallible. RaDonda Vaught is a scapegoat forced to take responsibility with unjust consequences for her own mistake in addition to the mistakes of a wealthy, powerful medical institution. Convicting RaDonda Vaught of a crime multiplies one tragedy many times over. The New York Professional Nurses Union stands in solidarity with RaDonda Vaught and all of the nurses and medical professionals that have expressed support for her.”

# # #