Lobbying for 'RaDonda's Law' gains traction in Tennessee

Lobbying efforts for legislation to end the criminalization of medical errors are well underway in Tennessee, where former nurse RaDonda Vaught was criminally convicted and sentenced to three years of supervised probation for a fatal medication error she made in 2017. 

Nurse advocates are working with an attorney and various state medical organizations on the lobbying effort. The legislation, dubbed "RaDonda's Law," would protect healthcare workers from criminal charges for medical errors — as long as they are open and honest about the error, according to Tina Vinsant, BSN, a nurse advocate who is involved in the lobbying efforts and hosts the "Good Nurse Bad Nurse" podcast. Ms. Vinsant also helps run the Nurses March for RaDonda's Law Facebook group, which has more than 13,000 members. 

"It literally incentivizes people to be forthcoming with errors," she told Becker's of the draft legislation, pointing to the potential patient safety consequences of Ms. Vaught's verdict. "I don't want to live in a world where healthcare professionals are afraid to speak up when they make a mistake while doing their job. That's a dangerous world to live in."

At present, the Tennessee Hospital Association, Tennessee Medical Association, Tennessee Nurses Association and the Tennessee Pharmacists Association are working together to draft the legislation, which will likely be presented to the Tennessee legislature this fall, according to Ms. Vinsant. 

"We've received nothing but positive support from all of the legislators that we have spoken with, including Cameron Sexton, who is the speaker of the state of Tennessee House of Representatives," she said. 

Ms. Vinsant said she and other advocates plan to boost lobbying efforts in other states if legislation is passed in Tennessee. In the meantime, she is encouraging nurses and healthcare professionals nationwide to reach out to their legislators about the criminalization of medical errors. 

"Let them know that you as a constituent are concerned about this, that this scares you and you want to see something done about it," she said, adding that people can find email templates and other lobbying resources in the Facebook group.

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