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After a three-day trial that gripped nurses across the country, former nurse RaDonda Vaught was convicted in Tennessee of two felonies, gross neglect of an impaired adult and negligent homicide, and is facing eight years in prison for a fatal medication mistake. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13

She was arrested in 2019 in connection with the killing of Charlene Murphey, who died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in late December 2017. Murphey was prescribed a sedative, Versed, to calm her before being scanned in a large, MRI-like machine. Vaught was tasked to retrieve Versed from a computerized medication cabinet but instead grabbed a powerful paralyzer, vecuronium.

Vaught overlooked several warning signs as she withdrew the wrong drug – including that Versed is a liquid but vecuronium is a powder – and then injected Murphey and left her to be scanned. By the time the error was discovered, Murphey was brain-dead.

According to the report by Kaiser Health News, in the wake of Vaught’s trial ― an extremely rare case of a health care worker being criminally prosecuted for a medical error ― nurses and nursing organizations have condemned the verdict through tens of thousands of social media posts, shares, comments, and videos. They warn that the fallout will ripple through their profession, demoralizing and depleting the ranks of nurses already stretched thin by the pandemic. Ultimately, they say, it will worsen health care for all.

Statements from the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, and the National Medical Association each said Vaught’s conviction set a “dangerous precedent.” Linda Aiken, a nursing and sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that although Vaught’s case is an “outlier,” it will make nurses less forthcoming about mistakes.

But some of Vaught’s peers support the conviction.

Scott Shelp, a California nurse with a small YouTube channel, posted a 26-minute self-described “unpopular opinion” that Vaught deserves to serve prison time. “We need to stick up for each other,” he said, “but we cannot defend the indefensible.”

Shelp said he would never make the same error as Vaught and “neither would any competent nurse.” Regarding concerns that the conviction would discourage nurses from disclosing errors, Shelp said “dishonest” nurses “should be weeded out” of the profession anyway.

And the controversy around Vaught’s case is far from over. As of April 4, more than 8,200 people had joined a Facebook group planning a march in protest outside the courthouse during her sentencing May 13.

Among the event’s planners is Tina Visant, the host of “Good Nurse Bad Nurse,” a podcast that followed Vaught’s case and opposed her prosecution.

“I don’t know how Nashville is going to handle it,” Visant said of the protest during a recent episode about Vaught’s trial. “There are a lot of people coming from all over.”