A Tennessee jury convicted former Vanderbilt University Medical Center registered nurse RaDonda Vaught of criminally negligent homicide on Friday, March 25. In a tragic 2017 accident, Ms Vaught mistakenly administered the wrong medication which led to the death of a patient. The following statement is attributable to Anne Gross, PhD, RN, Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Craig A. Bunnell, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“As leaders in the national patient safety movement, we at DFCI are deeply disturbed by the recent criminal conviction of RaDonda Vaught, RN. Nurses, physicians, social workers, pharmacists and all clinicians do everything possible to prevent medical errors. At Dana-Farber, we work to continuously improve our practice environment through Executive Patient Safety Rounds, protecting a culture that encourages reporting of any possible errors, rigorous processes to understand the basis of errors that do happen, and significant investment in improving systems to keep us all safe.
“However, we know that mistakes can and do happen because we are all human. Delivering excellence in patient care means we must have a fair and just culture that enables the honest reporting of both near misses and actual occurrences so that we can improve our systems and implement necessary safeguards in the practice environment. This verdict must never become a precedent as it would ultimately undermine the culture of patient safety and the nonpunitive environment that all hospitals must model. The criminalization of medical errors has no place in health care, and we will do all we can to counter it.”