Ex-nurse sentenced to probation in patient medication death

Nashville, Tenn. (AP) — A former Tennessee nurse whose medication error killed a patient was sentenced Friday to three years’ probation as hundreds of health care workers rallied outside the courthouse, warning that such Criminalizing mistakes will lead to more deaths in hospitals.

A state judge sentenced Radonda Watt after apologizing to the victim’s relatives, Charlene Murphy, saying she would be haunted forever by her mistake. what was Convicted in March Due to criminal negligence and gross neglect of a disabled adult after accidentally giving the wrong medicine.

Nashville Criminal Court Judge Jennifer Smith said Watt would receive a judicial diversion, a way for first-time offenders to have his charges dropped and his record removed after successfully completing probation. Prosecutors had argued against diversion, although they were not opposed to probation.

The crowd of nurses protesting outside jumped with joy and hugged after hearing the punishment. Relief came as health care workers spent hours in the sun catching up on every word of the judge’s explanation of the lengthy sentence, some connected with clenched hands in a chain.

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The fact that Watt, 38, faced any criminal penalties, became a rallying point for many nurses, who were already fed up with working conditions worsened by the pandemic. The crowd outside listened to the hearing through loudspeakers and rejoiced when some relatives of the victim said they did not want jail time for Watt.

“Knowing my mom, how my mom was and stuff, she wouldn’t want to see her served without jail time. That’s all, mom. Mom was a very forgiving person,” Michael Murphy told the court. However, Charlene Murphy’s The husband wanted her to serve the prison term, relatives testified.

Watt apologized to the family in court, saying that words would never fully express her “remorse and sorrow”.

“I will forever be haunted by my role in his untimely demise,” she said. “She didn’t deserve it.”

In evaluating whether to give Watt a judicial turn, Smith cited Watt’s remorse as well as his honesty about drug error.

Speaking before the sentencing, Watt apologized to Murphy’s family, if discussed. Problems of systemic hospitalization and risk of criminalization of mistakes Took some attention away from the death of your loved one.

“I’m sorry that this public outpouring of support for me has made you continue to live it over and over again,” she told them. “No one has forgotten about your loved one, no one has forgotten about Ms. Murphy. We are all very, very sorry for what happened.”

After Watt was found guilty in March, health care workers began posting on social media that administrative positions were leaving bedside nursing, or even leaving the profession altogether. He said the risk of going to jail for a mistake made nursing unbearable.

On Friday, Watt’s supporters wore purple T-shirts reading “#IAmRaDonda” and “Seeking justice for nurses and patients in a broken system” as they listened to speeches from other nurses and supporters. He even observed a moment of silence to remember Charlene Murphy.

Alice Ellison traveled through Texas to join them. An emergency room nurse for 14 years, she said she cried when Vote was found guilty.

“Never in my 14 years have I felt so helpless,” she said. “It could be me.” She came to Nashville “to tell the world that criminalizing a mistake, an honest mistake, is not the direction we want to go.”

Jenny Reid, who drives from Memphis, said she became a nurse practitioner several years ago because “the bedside was getting dangerous. … there were never enough nurses.”

“I don’t usually do things like this,” she said of the protest. “I’m just so passionate about it. Nurses are going to go to jail, and more people are going to die because they won’t report their errors.”

As soon as she realized what she had done wrong, Vote reported her error – on December 26, 2017, 75-year-old Charlene Murphy injected the paralyzing drug vecuronium instead of the sedative Versed. Watt admitted to making several mistakes, which led to fatalities. injection, but her defense attorney argued that systemic problems at Vanderbilt University Medical Center were at least partly to blame.

Speaking at Friday’s hearing, Michael Murphy spoke about the toll his mother’s death has taken on the family.

“I was at work when all this happened, so I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my mother. I didn’t get to hug or kiss him,” he said. “My dad suffers from this every day. He goes to the cemetery once or twice a week. He goes out there and cries. He is 83 years old.”

His wife, Chandra Murphy, also testified on Friday about how things were before her mother-in-law’s death.

“We always got together for family dinners,” she said. “We did a lot together as a family, and it ended for us in a split second. We still have her Christmas presents wrapped in our attic.”

Contributors include Associated Press writer Jonathan Mattis in Nashville.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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