MPL Association Statement on Vaught Prosecution and Sentencing
(Rockville, MD, May 10, 2022)— The Medical Professional Liability Association (MPL Association) President and CEO Brian K. Atchinson issued the following statement about the sentencing of former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse, RaDonda Vaught:
The eyes of the nation’s healthcare provider community were on a Nashville courtroom on May 13 where former nurse RaDonda Vaught was sentenced to three-years’ probation for the negligent death of one of her patients. The judge’s sagacious handling of the sentencing in this case is an important recognition of the complexity often involved in the delivery of care and the far-reaching significance of this case. Medical errors—including those that result in tragic outcomes—can offer an opportunity for learning and understanding that leads to improved patient safety. If unintended errors in the delivery of medical care are criminalized beyond the most egregious circumstances, medical professionals and other healthcare workers will be reluctant to report adverse events, thus diminishing opportunities to learn from these mistakes. The civil justice system and professional licensing and review boards are the most appropriate venues for accountability in nearly all such situations; open lines of communication without fear of criminal charges can help identify important patient safety improvements and prevent future unintended adverse medical outcomes, without adversely affecting patient care.