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ANA Criticizes ’Criminalization of Medical Errors’ as Vanderbilt Nurse Arraigned


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This article first appeared on HealthLeaders.

By Steven Porter

As a former nurse for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning for an arraignment on felony charges of reckless homicide and impaired adult abuse, the American Nurses Association raised concerns about the precedent the case could set.

Radonda Vaught administered a fatal dose of the wrong medication to a 75-year-old woman in late 2017, after overriding system safeguards, as The Tennessean's Brett Kelman reported, citing an investigation report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That incident, which VUMC reportedly failed to convey to the medical examiner, prompted CMS to threaten VUMC's Medicare status last November.

Vaught was indicted earlier this month, prompting the ANA to voice some concerns.

"Health care is highly complex and ever-changing resulting in a high risk and error-prone system," the ANA said in a statement Tuesday. "However, the criminalization of medical errors could have a chilling effect on reporting and process improvement."

The statement, which specifically mentions Vaught's case, expresses support for handling medical errors with "a full and confidential peer review process."

The ANA also offered its condolences to the those who have suffered as a result of this error.

"This tragic incident should serve as reminder to all nurses, other health care professionals, and administrators that we must be constantly vigilant at the patient and system level," the ANA added.

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.