A former nurse convicted of a fatal drug mistake has been sentenced to probation

The former nurse, whose medication killed the patient, was sentenced to three years probation on Friday, ending a case that has raised concerns among healthcare workers for fear that medical errors could be criminalized.

The nurse, Radonda Woot, apologized to the relatives of the 75-year-old victim, Charlene Murphy, who was injected with a lethal dose of vecuronium, which is a paralyzing drug and instead of a sedative, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. brain injury on December 26, 2017, by: court documents.

Ms. Murphy was scheduled to have a PET scan that day, and she needed medication to control her anxiety, said Ms. Woot’s lawyer.

“It’s not enough to say ‘I’m sorry,'” Woot, 38, who cried, told Murphy’s family during the verdict. “But you deserve to hear it. You deserve to know that I am very sorry for what happened. ”

Ms Vaut, who was convicted in March of manslaughter and negligent homicide, also pleaded guilty, which would deprive her of her criminal record if she successfully completed her probation.

“This crime took place in a medical setting,” Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith said during the sentencing. “It was not due to any intention to break the law, but as a result of control, gross negligence, neglect, as the jury concluded. The defendant immediately assumed responsibility. He made every effort to correct the situation when he recognized his mistake. ”

Ms. Woot’s criminal conviction shocked nurses across the country who complained of exhaustion due to the epidemic and working conditions. Persistent staff shortages in hospitals. Her case was seen as a threat to the profession, which could have a chilling effect on patient care if nurses were more reluctant to report errors.

Ms. Watt said in March that the jury’s decision in her case “will have a greater impact on the nursing community and overall health care.”

The American Nurses Association agreed, saying a announcement: in March, it was “deeply saddened by this verdict, with the damaging consequences of criminalizing honest reporting of errors.”

Friday Association he said it “was grateful to the judge for his lenient attitude during the verdict.”

“Unfortunately, medical errors can occur even among skilled, conscientious, vigilant nurses, and health professionals,” the association said.

The Davidson District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. Prosecutors did not object to conditional imprisonment on Friday.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of the trial,” said Peter Strians, Woot’s lawyer.

Mrs. Murphy’s son, Michael Murphy, told The court on Friday said that “knowing my mother as my mother և etc., she would not want to see” that Mrs. Woot was imprisoned.

“She’s just a mom,” she said. “My mother was a very forgiving person.”

Associated Press: reports that Mrs. Murphy’s husband really wanted Mrs. Woth to go to jail.

While she waited to hear the judge’s verdict, Mrs. Woot was visibly shaken and took a deep breath. After the verdict was passed, while the others were leaving the courtroom, he put napkins in his eyes, put his head on the table and cried.

Outside the courthouse, purple-clad nurses rallied in Nashville to defend News Channel 5 reports.

Speaking to reporters March:Ms. Watt said that what happened in 2017 was “something that will always be with me.”

“Every time you take care of a patient, do you have something that connects you, you do not forget it, good or bad, as a nurse or as a good healthcare provider,” she said.

Mr Strians argued that Ms Woot’s mistakes were partly due to systemic problems at the hospital, such as problems with the pharmacy department.

However, prosecutors argued that his mistakes were criminal negligence. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, he broke into the computer medical system when he could not find the drug Versed, entered “VE” and chose the first drug on the list (paralyzed vecuronium). report:.

Then he could not respond to a number of “red flags”, according to the report. vecuronium comes in powder form, unlike liquid Versed, vecuronium has a red cap that says “Warning. a paralyzing agent. “

Ms. Woth later told investigators that she had “deviated from something” at the time; Mrs. Woot eventually lost her nursing license.

Eric Knutsen, a professor of medical malpractice at the University of Queens, Ontario, Canada, said on Saturday that he did not blame nurses for their concerns, especially during the epidemic, and that Ms. Woot’s case did not signal an “open season for nurses.” »

“Health workers are accustomed to negligence lawsuits in which patients demand financial compensation,” he said. Prosecutions, however, are less common and “personal” because, unlike other cases of negligence, the possible price is time in prison.

“A district prosecutor’s office must think before they even think about bringing criminal charges.

“In order to have a chance to be convicted, the district attorney probably thought that Ms. Woot’s mistakes were particularly ‘grossly preventable,'” he said.

Prosecutors may have wanted to send a message saying “to curb conduct in the workplace that could harm or kill,” Mr Knutsen said.

“I think this will be a very, very rare, one-time event,” he said. The prosecutor, he added, had sent a clear message. “Nurses, be careful.”

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