Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Radonda Vaught In The News Again

Radonda Vaught In The News Again

I have noted in past reports about the matter of RaDonda Vaught and once again her situation is making news again.

You recall that Ms. Vaught was serving as a help a nurse at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee when she was called to give a patient experiencing anxiety about going into an MRI machine a dose of Versed.

Unfortunately, Ms. Vaught instead pulled and administered to the patient Vecuronium, a paralytic agent, to which the patient succumbed.

At that time, Vanderbilt was experiencing issues with the Pyxis communications with the electronic medical records and notified its nurses via email to override the Pyxis so that medications could be administered. Therefore, the normal checks and balances were not present.

As a result, Ms. Vaught was charged criminally and convicted of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult. The judge sentenced her to 3 years probation. At the successful completion of probation, the matter will be expunged from her record.

Prior to the criminal trial, Ms. Vaught had a hearing before the Tennessee Board of Nursing which decided to revoke her license, an issue which Ms. Vaught is now appealing. The matter is set for oral argument on March 28, 2023.

In order to have a nursing board matter overturned, a very high standard must be met, and a lot of deference is given to the administrative agency rendering the opinion. Ms. Vaught’s appeal is based on the agency’s decision being arbitrary, and an abuse of discretion. She is asking for a new hearing.

Since this is a very high standard, the Judge will review the entire transcript of the hearing to determine whether the nursing board abused its discretion or if the decision was arbitrary and capricious. Overturning the ruling would require that the decision must be unsupported by substantial evidence. In Ms. Vaught’s case, Ms. Vaught admitted that she made a medication error resulting in a patient’s death.

Is revocation of her license an abuse of discretion? Well, I believe that the nursing board’s decision was harsh. The board’s duty is to remedy the situation that caused Ms. Vaught to be before the board to ensure that she is safe to practice. Clearly, this could have been done by continuing education and placing her license on probation while she is being monitored.

I will be very interested to see what happens in this case. Frankly, I would be terrified to return to nursing knowing that if I make a mistake it could result in criminal charges. It would be like walking on eggshells to do everything perfectly and, as we know, eggs sometimes break.

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