April 5, 2022
In 2017, former Vanderbilt University Center nurse, RaDonda Vaught, administered incorrect medication to a patient, which resulted in the patient's death. In a deeply concerning turn of events, a jury recently convicted her of reckless homicide and impaired adult abuse. ACNM believes this verdict is harmful to nurses and all medical professionals, including certified midwives (CM) and certified nurse-midwives (CNM).
Midwifery and medical care can be very complicated, often involving high-stress environments. There are processes and procedures in place, but mistakes are inevitably made. Criminalizing medical errors is unacceptable and this conviction sets a dangerous precedent. Ensuring patient safety and quality of care cannot come at the expense of individual providers like RaDonda Vaught.
The midwifery and nursing workforces are already suffering from intense burnout and short-staffing due to the pandemic. This verdict only stands to exacerbate these issues and will have long-lasting, negative ramifications for the United States’ already fragile health care system. We simply cannot afford to lose more midwives, nurses, physicians, or those considering entering these professions, as the maternal health care crisis also continues to worsen. We must shift the culture around hospital and provider liability and simply acknowledge that mistakes happen.
Many of ACNM’s members are nurses, and the ramifications will be felt for all health care providers. We send a message of support and solidarity to all health care providers, and those impacted by this tragedy.
American College of Nurse-Midwives
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