Criminal Prosecution of Medical Errors, Vaught Case Fallout - News Brief
The RaDonda Vaught case isn’t the first or last case of medical errors rising to the level of criminal prosecution, but has stirred up a lot of fear, particularly in nursing environments. The recent Husel trial, raising issues of intent and action, likewise has dipped into the murky bits of medical practice and end-of-life care.
The concern with cases like Vaught, and future prosecutions of medical errors in other states, is that it creates incredibly powerful incentives to hide errors, institutionally, by both nurses and by physicians. Vaught's open interview with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was used in the closing arguments.
In the Vaught case, there’s the systemic issue - what procedures and processes are in place to prevent medical errors, and the individual responsibility. That’s the issue that may (or may not have been) damaged by this case, the idea that this was a systemic error in the domain of medical judgment, versus criminal judgment.
Husel was a different sort of case, and one that touches on medical ethics in end-of-life care. The criminal trial is over, and the civil trials are starting now.
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