Newswise — PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AANA)—Dr. Dina Velocci, DNP, CRNA, APRN, president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA) issued the following statement in response to a verdict of a former nurse found guilty in an accidental injection death of a patient: 

As a part of the nation's nursing community, the AANA has been observing with great concern the trial of Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse RaDonda Vaught, who was charged with reckless homicide and abuse of an impaired adult after mistakenly administering the wrong medication that killed an elderly patient in 2017. She was convicted of gross neglect of an impaired adult and negligent homicide on Friday, March 23, after a three-day trial in Nashville, Tenn., and faces three to six years in prison for neglect and one to two years for negligent homicide. 

The AANA shares the concerns expressed by the American Nurses Association that: "The criminalization of medical errors is unnerving, and this verdict sets into motion a dangerous precedent. There are more effective and just mechanisms to examine errors, establish system improvements and take corrective action. The non-intentional acts of Individual nurses like RaDonda Vaught should not be criminalized to ensure patient safety. 

As healthcare providers, we are an integral, human cog in the machine of healthcare delivery. We are placed in an environment that is built by many other systems and together we take care of our patients. Targeting healthcare providers with the criminalization of medical errors only provides a path to a healthcare environment that is unsafe for providers and patients.  

The AANA values processes that promote patient safety and supports healthcare professionals in assessing, measuring, and improving performance, as well as reporting performance measures to promote patient safety. Creating and encouraging a safety culture is a hallmark of a high-reliability team and organization. Clinicians are empowered to speak up when a mistake or error occurs in order to learn from it and identify a process that may need improvement. Impeccable Integrity, “transparency, just and timely” reporting mechanisms of medical errors without the fear of criminalization preserve safe patient care environments.