Documents: Former Vanderbilt nurse missed red flags before administering fatal dose

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Authorities say a former Vanderbilt nurse missed five red flags before giving a patient a fatal dose of medication last year, according to court documents obtained by News 2. 

The documents also include the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s report in the case against Radonda Vaught. It’s more than 50 pages and includes pictures of the medication Vaught administered and the medication the patient was supposed to get.

Vaught is facing more than 10 years in prison for reckless homicide and abuse of an impaired adult. The charges stem from a deadly medication error that happened in December 2017.     

According to the investigative report, Charlene Murphey was waiting for a standard PET scan at Vanderbilt before she was killed by a fatal dosage of the wrong medication. 

Vaught was asked to give Murphey a sedative to make her more comfortable. Instead of the sedative Versed, which was ordered by Murphey’s doctor, Vaught chose the medication Vecuronium, which causes paralysis. 

Investigators believe Ms. Murphey died within 20 minutes. 

According to the TBI’s report, Vaught failed to catch a number of red flags between the time she grabbed the medication and gave it to the patient. 

The report says Vaught was familiar with Versed and had given it to patients before. The steps to administer Vecuronium are very different.

For example, as you can see the cap on the vial for Vecuronium is bright red with the words paralyzing agent printed on it.

Vaught would have also had to shake the bottle and read instructions to determine how much medication to administer. These are not typical steps with the correct drug. 

According to TBI investigators, she would have needed to look at the red cap on the bottle in order to draw medication into a syringe. 

The substances themselves are also very different, according to the report.

Vaught also should have stayed with the patient after giving her the medication. Had she done that, she would have noticed symptoms of paralysis within minutes.

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