What was Radonda Vaught sentenced to? Details about charges explored

RaDonda Vaught was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult (Image via Mark Humphrey)
RaDonda Vaught was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult (Image via Mark Humphrey)

RaDonda Vaught, a former Tennessee nurse, was sentenced to three years of supervised probation on Friday after being convicted in March of making a fatal medication error in 2017 for the death of one of her patients, Charlene Murphey.

Judge Jennifer Smith said:

"RaDonda Vaught had made a 'terrible, terrible mistake' and 'there have been consequences to the defendant.' Vaught could now have all charges removed from her record."

After a jury convicted RaDonda Vaught of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult, her case became a lightning rod for health care workers.

RaDonda Vaught sentenced to three years probation, no jail time. The crowd reacts in Nashville.#RaDondaVaught #Nurses

On Thursday, nurses gathered outside the courthouse cheered the decision not to sentence Vaught to prison.

David, a Georgia nurse, reacted to the verdict:

"This was possibly the best outcome from a worst-case scenario. But all of us here know that what the judge really should've said was, 'We're sorry, RaDonda. Here's your medical license back. Now learn from your mistakes and be a great nurse. We need nurses now more than ever.' I mean, she's not even guilty of anything that the rest of us are not capable of doing under the pressure we all face every day."

What did RaDonda Vaught do?

RaDonda Vaught was charged in 2019 with reckless homicide and gross neglect of an incapacitated adult in the death of Charlene Murphey. The latter died in late December 2017 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


Murphey, 75, was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with a brain injury. Her condition was improving when the error occurred, and she was going to be discharged from the hospital.

Murphey was meant to go through some sort of physical examination and was given a sedative called Versed to help her relax.

Vaught was to get Versed from a computerized prescription cabinet, but she got a potent paralyzer, vecuronium. The nurse ignored many red flags when she drew the wrong medicine โ€” Versed is a liquid, whereas vecuronium is a powder โ€” injected Murphey and then left her to be scanned.

Murphey was brain dead by the time the error was noticed.

Prosecutors characterized Vaught as a careless and indifferent nurse who disregarded her training and abandoned her patience during the trial.

Assistant District Attorney Chad Jackson said:

"The immutable fact of this case is that Charlene Murphey is dead because RaDonda Vaught could not bother to pay attention to what she was doing."

Vaught's lawyer, Peter Strianse, argued that his client made an "honest mistake," adding that she became a "scapegoat" for systemic issues in Vanderbilt University Medical Center's medication cabinets in 2017.

Vaught informed the nursing board:

"I know the reason this patient is no longer here is because of me. There won't ever be a day that goes by where I don't think about what I did."

Vaught is said to operate a company called Horny Outdoor Apparels, which sells specialist hunting apparel and costumes. With her husband, Ed, she ran the business.

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Edited by Ravi Iyer
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