Vaught sentencing considered ‘make or break’ for some nurses

Nurses celebrate the sentence former nurse Radonda Vaught recieved.
Published: May. 14, 2022 at 8:34 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - RaDonda Vaught’s sentence is not just a victory for her but also for the hundreds of nurses who traveled from all over the country to show their support for her.

One nurse News 4 talked to from Tennessee said she was nervous driving here Thursday night and on the fence about whether to stay in the profession.

“I came here today knowing this verdict would make it or break it for me,” nurse Kaitlin Riddick said.

Riddick said she was running on just two hours of sleep and adrenaline Friday. “I knew a lot was riding on this and weighing heavy on me,” Riddick said.

Riddick said her future was riding on Friday’s decision in RaDonda Vaught’s sentencing.

“I probably would have [quit],” Riddick said. “I probably would have pulled out of any of my nursing programs, and I would have taken a long time to think about it.”

Riddick was one of the hundreds of nurses in downtown Nashville Friday who cheered, hugged, and cried when they learned Judge Jennifer Smith said Vaught would spend no time in jail.

“It was a relief you could feel,” Riddick said. “Suddenly, the weight lifted off everybody, and this was the best case scenario.”

Vaught is the former Vanderbilt nurse charged with a criminally negligent homicide earlier this year after a patient died in her care in 2017. Vaught self-reported her medication error right away. Riddick said she believes it could have had a chilling effect on other nurses if Vaught had been sent to prison.

“If you know at the end of the day if you report it that you will go away, why would you tell anyone,” Riddick asked.

Other nurses who Riddick traveled with agree.

“I think many more nurses would quit,” nurse Danelle Crocetto said. “I think a lot would not be going to nursing school. We would lose a lot of students. Healthcare would go down big time, and patients would suffer.”

Riddick said she hopes Vaught’s sentencing is a starting point for legislation to be passed to protect nurses and patients better.

“I am walking out of here today still happy to be a nurse and knowing things can change, and they will change,” Riddick said.

Vaught’s attorney said she would be working on her family’s farm for three years of probation.

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