American Nurses Association Reacts to Sentencing of Nurse RaDonda Vaught

SILVER SPRING, MD, May 13, 2022 (Globe Newswire) — Radonda Watt, a former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse, has been sentenced to three years’ probation after a jury found her criminally negligent manslaughter for giving her the wrong drug. and was convicted of impaired adult abuse. As a result one patient died in 2017. The following statement is attributed to both the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA):

“We are grateful to the judge for showing leniency in the sentencing of Nurse Wanted. Unfortunately, medical errors can and do happen even among skilled, well-meaning and alert nurses and health care professionals.

After speaking with Watt and his attorney, the ANA sent a letter to the judge, which would be presented as evidence on Watt’s behalf. In fact, prior to the sentencing hearing, ANA was in communication with Vott and his attorney to discuss the best ways for ANA to provide assistance to Vott in the specific context of the sentence. According to those communications, we drafted a letter through his lawyer to be presented as evidence to the court. The letter expresses the legal reasons why we would humbly request leniency, both from a professional and nursing standpoint. We were forced to take this action because we all see ourselves in Watts. The nurses see themselves in the watts; Our peers and colleagues and healthcare professionals beyond nursing see themselves in Watts.

Nurses at all levels and in all settings provide care in a demanding work environment with the challenges of the pre-COVID-19 pandemic. Consider this: A general nurse’s shift is fast paced and high stakes, with constant patient turnover, inadequate staffing levels, variation in patient acuity, exposure to infectious disease, and risk of work-related injury and violence. All of these factors hinder the delivery of safe patient care, and nurses too often find themselves working in conditions that increase the potential for adverse outcomes from tragic mistakes.

Our hearts continue to go out to the loved ones of both Ms. Murphy and Nurse Watt, who are all deeply affected by this tragedy and face a long road to healing. Leaders, regulators and administrators have a responsibility to nurses and patients to establish and maintain organizational structures that support an equitable culture, which includes accepting that mistakes do happen and systems fail. Structures should include complete and confidential peer review processes to investigate errors, implement system improvements, and establish corrective action plans. Criminalizing medical errors will not preserve a safe patient care environment.”


The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the leading organization representing the interests of the nation’s 4.3 million registered nurses. ANA advances the profession by promoting high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, promoting the health and well-being of nurses, and advocating for health care issues affecting nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information visit High-resolution images of the ANA logo or photos of the ANA leadership are available for download.


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