The nurse couldn’t stop crying after realizing what she had done. This emotional moment changed everything in her life. The case has put a spotlight on how nurses should be held accountable for medical mistakes. A former Tennessee nurse whose medication error killed a patient was sentenced to three years of probation Friday as hundreds of healthcare workers
rallied outside the courthouse warning that criminalizing such mistakes will lead to more deaths in hospitals. A state judge imposed a sentence on Rhodanda VAT after she apologized to relatives of the victim, Charlene Murphy, and she said that she would be forever haunted by her mistake.
Vaughn was found guilty in March of criminally negligent homicide and gross neglect of an impaired adult after she accidentally administered the wrong medication. Nashville Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith said Vault would receive judicial diversion away for first time offenders to have their charges dropped and their records expunged after successfully completing probation.
Prosecutors had argued against diversion, although they were not opposed to probation. Murphy was supposed to receive a dose of versed acetative but was instead injected with burcotum, which left her unable to breathe, prosecutors have said. Meanwhile, nurses from around the nation are rallying to support her and urge the judge not to give her prison time.
Follow along today for live updates from inside and outside the courtroom. Vault sentence celebrated a sentence marking the conclusion of a case that drew national attention was welcomed by VAT supporters Friday afternoon. It was like a roller coaster, but that was the very best outcome we could have hoped for today, Knoxville nurse Tina Vincent said in an interview. Vincent helped organize the rally outside the courthouse
Friday in support of VAT that drew hundreds, many from other States who were healthcare professionals. Vat’s attorneys spoke at a short news conference after the sentencing hearing concluded ridonda is to be credited for the dignity that she’s shown throughout this entire process, her focus and her concern for Charlene Murphy and Ms.
Murphy’s family. Defense attorney Peter Straussen said. Libby Diaz, a nurse from Alabama, drove 2 hours on Friday morning to attend the demonstration. It was very tense. We all feel like we could be in Vault’s position, Diaz said about Friday’s events.
It was an important trick to make despite its length, said Diaz, who was headed back to Huntsville for a softball game. It was a good little day trip to be a part of history, she said. The Murphy family expressed satisfaction with the sentence. We didn’t want jail time, Murphy’s daughter in law, Sandra Murphy, said outside the court. We just wanted to make sure she didn’t do this to anyone else.
Molly Davis, Rachel Wagner and Mariah Tims, the Tennesseean sentenced to supervised probation Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith sentenced VAT to supervise probation, a decision that unraveled in dramatic fashion just after 02:00 p.m.. Friday. Vat reacted with tears, and her supporters outside the courtroom celebrated my hope that
changes in the practices and the protocols in the medical setting that have arisen since this event may at least be some positive aspect that has arisen and going forward, I hope it prevents this type of situation from happening again, Smith said. I recognize, however, that will never be enough to heal your wounds, the judge added, speaking to the victim’s family. Members of the Murphy family quickly left the courtroom after the sentence.
Vat, who was shaking during the judge read the sentence, broke into tears of relief. When Smith finished. Smith sentenced, fought to three years and then diverted that sentence. It means Vault will be on probation and if she follows the rules of will see her charges erased at the end. Smith laid outlined her decision systematic.
Supporters in an overflow room inside the courthouse, and supporters outside first cried and silently listened when Smith and VAT’s charges warrant three years of prison. Then, Smith said, VAT would not face jail time. Outside, they cheered. Supporters inside the overflow room celebrated as well. I’m glad for her that she’s getting probation with the diversion, so the chance of it coming off of her record, Kentucky nurse Chrissy Trusted said in an interview.
I don’t think that it totally corrects the main problem of her getting criminally charged. Smith made sure to address the Murphys as well when she announced the sentence. Nothing that happens here today can reverse that loss and ease that pain, Smith said. I want to assure that Murphy family that this court is deeply mindful and sorry for their loss. It’s also very concerning to the state that before the jury decided her fate, she was saying Profanities on the news and accusing me personally as a liar, Assistant District Attorney Chad Jackson said at the podium, protesting a request for diversion for Vault.
Vault attorney Peter Strains asked Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith to effectively put Vaut’s sentence on hold. And unless she does not follow the rules of her probation, later erase her charges. But Jackson and Assistant District Attorney Brittany Flatt cited VAT statements to the media and her ongoing case in Sumner County as evidence not in VAT’s favor. Flat said VAT’s attitude is a reason the judge should reject a lighter sentence for VAT. When Flat said that, VAT turned her gaze toward Flat and raised her eyebrows.
Vat supporters in an overflow room in the courthouse groaned at some of the prosecutors comments VAT took to the podium Friday, the first time she has spoken. I court during the case. But before delivering prepared remarks, she spoke directly to the victim’s family, saying, I’m sorry doesn’t seem like enough, but you deserve to hear that and know that I am very sorry for what happened, VAT told Rhonda Chandra and Michael Murphy, who sat quietly and nodded along. Shandra Murphy testified earlier that she had never heard VAT apologize. Vat then addressed the public at the podium.
If my statements, my lack of showing emotion on the outside came across his lack of remorse. That was terribly inaccurate, VAT said. She says she has been trained to keep her composure in nursing. You put your emotions and your shame and your remorse inside and you deal with it later, VAT said the statement that drew cheers and applause from protesters outside the courthouse. Many supporters inside an overflow room in the courthouse watched with mostly emotionless expressions through a few nodded in solemn agreement with VAT spoke.
Vat then addressed Murphy’s death. When Ms. Murphy died, a part of me died with her, she said. Vat has experienced anxiety and depression as a result, she said. While she suffers, VAT acknowledges Murphy’s family also does.
It is not an easy task for me to stand here in front of you and in front of Ms. Murphy’s family, knowing the 4.5 years they have suffered since this and asked for your leniency, VAT said at the podium. But VAT said she is no longer a nurse and doesn’t pose a threat to the public. This sentencing is bound to have an effect on how they proceed, both in reporting medical errors, medication errors and raising concerns if they see something they feel needs to be brought to someone’s attention, VAT pleaded. I worry this is going to have a deep impact on patient safety.
Mariah Tim’s, Rachel Wagner and Frank Gluck, the Tennessean in defense of VAT, VAT’s friends and former coworkers took to the stand Friday, all of whom testified in support of an alternative sentence for vote. She has been resilient and that she has built a farm, but she still has a broken heart, Kissinger said. After three emotional testimonies from Murphy’s family, Special Agent Ramona Smith with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation testified about a different case involving VAT.
Vat attempted to purchase a firearm in neighboring Sumner County in August 2020 and lied on the background check that required the purchaser to disclose if the purchaser was facing any indictments. Sumner county prosecutors have brought a perjury case against Bot, which has not gone to trial yet bought supporters listening and watching the hearing in a courthouse overflow room and outside at the protest expressed dissatisfaction at Ramona Smith’s portrayal of VAT’s character.
A worker in the overflow room admonished the audience for making negative comments, Ramona Smith said. Vat was ultimately forthcoming, but that doesn’t circumvent the seriousness of the amount of errors that she did. State prosecutors rested its proof after Ramona Smith’s testimony. Tearful testimonies Murphy’s son, Michael, and two of their daughters in law, Rhonda and Chandra, gave tearful testimonies early in the hearing. A once seemingly composed Bot cried more with each testimony.