NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Emotions in the courtroom were mixed Friday after former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught was found guilty on two charges in the 2017 death of 75-year-old Charlene Murphey.
As the victim’s family breathed what seemed like a sigh of relief, members of the nursing community there to support Vaught looked stunned outside in the halls—tears in their eyes as they embraced Vaught, and anger towards the District Attorney’s office.
However, before the verdict came in, the former Vanderbilt nurse told News 2 she is at peace with today’s decision. That a verdict doesn’t impact the fact that she has to live with this fatal mistake forever.
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“For me personally, it doesn’t matter, but to the community of nurses, it matters a lot — because we take care of people, and we have to be able to take steps to make things better, and when you do screw up it doesn’t matter how bad it is, you have an obligation to tell the truth. You have an obligation to tell people in your institution so they can make changes to make things better and, unfortunately, I think the District’s Attorney office in Davidson County, they have lost sight of that,” Vaught said.
With tears in her eyes, she thanked those that had stood by her over the last four years.
Nurses from across the state and beyond traveled to Nashville to support Vaught, as others watched from across the country. Many saying criminalizing a nurse who spoke up for a medication error like this will set a precedent for the healthcare industry.
“It’s not about me,” said Vaught. “It’s about an entire group of people, not just nurses, not just doctors, not just radiology technicians. It’s about patients and a healthcare system. I think this brings light to a lot of problems and hopefully, maybe something better will come out of this.”
The case has since changed protocols and safeguards at Vanderbilt Medical Center as to how medications are dispensed, as well as, other hospitals across the country.
The family of Charlene Murphey didn’t want to comment, but they are from the same small community as Vaught – Bethpage.
Vaught, who is now a farmer, said she has since seen Murphey’s grandson a few times, “He just, he had the kindest things to say to me about his grandmother and he told me to take care of myself. That’s the kind of people that live in our community. It’s a little bit of a weight that lifts when — her grandson can look at me and tell me, just to take care of myself and you know he was so kind, he was so kind, I think it speaks volumes to the kind of person that she was and that her family is,” she said.
It has been a very emotional few days for Murphey’s family as well—they have been here all week, often with tears in their eyes.
Vaught was found guilty of abuse of an impaired adult. On the count of reckless homicide, she was found guilty on a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. She will be sentenced in May and faces up to six years.