Nurses take to streets ahead of RaDonda Vaught sentencing

Nurses from across the country are heading to Washington, D.C., and Nashville, Tenn., this week to march for better working conditions and to show support for RaDonda Vaught. 

Ms. Vaught, 38, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and abuse of an impaired adult for a fatal medication error she made in December 2017 after overriding an electronic medical cabinet as a nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Her case has spurred a national outcry from nurses who argue the ruling sets a dangerous precedent for the profession and will discourage nurses from speaking up about errors. 

Ms. Vaught's sentencing is scheduled for May 13 in Nashville, and she faces up to eight years in prison. Hundreds of nurses are planning to march in Nashville the day of the hearing to show their support for Ms. Vaught and to fight for better protection for nurses against criminal prosecution of errors. 

"We expect a large number of people to show up … just to show our strength in numbers and hope that the judge takes this into consideration and makes it slightly better by not sentencing her to any prison time," said Erica, a Las Vegas-based hospice nurse who is attending the sentencing and asked Becker's not to share her last name.

Ms. Vaught was convicted of two felonies but is a first-time offender, meaning she may be eligible for probation, according to CBS affiliate WTVF

The May 13 march will come one day after the National Nurses March on May 12 in Washington, where thousands of nurses are expected to rally in support of fair wages, safe staffing patient ratios and protection against violence. The Facebook group for the National Nurses March organization had 208,000 members on the morning of May 12. 

"We're really hoping to make a little noise," Nina Velasquez, RN, a New Jersey nurse who is participating in the march, told CBS Philly

The march, organized by Veronica Marshall, RN, specifically supports legislation that would set minimum nurse-to-patient staffing requirements and ensure hospitals have safety plans in place to prevent violence: the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2021, and the Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare and Social Service Workers Act

"[Lawmakers are] going to see how this isn’t just one nurse complaint and isn’t just one hospital complaining. This is nurses coming here from all over the United States, coming together because we are all going through the same thing," Ms. Velasquez said.

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