Nurse pleads not guilty to charges in fatal drug swap error

    RaDonda Vaught (Photo: Metro Nashville Police)

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — A former Vanderbilt nurse charged in a patient's death pleaded not guilty to charges on Wednesday.

    Radonda Leanne Vaught is charged with reckless homicide and patient abuse in the death of Charlene Murphey.

    Prosecutors say Vaught mistakenly killed a patient when she overrode safeguards on a medicine dispensing cabinet at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

    The deadly error happened on Dec. 26, 2017, two days after the patient was admitted for headaches, swelling of the brain and other related symptoms.

    A physician ordered 2 milligrams of Versed, a drug used to treat anxiety – but the nurse administered 10 milligrams of Vecuronium, a deadly dose of the paralyzing agent often used for muscle relaxation during surgery. According to the Associated Press, she could not find the Versed right away, so she typed in "VE" and picked the first drug that appeared.

    Vaught was arraigned on charges Wednesday and entered a plea of not guilty.

    "It's pretty clear that this is a mistake, not her fault and she will maintain her innocence," Vaught's lawyer Peter Strianse said.

    Supporters, including other nurses, surrounded Vaught during her arraignment. Some nurses said Vaught's charges set a "dangerous precedent."

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