Shannon McClendon, 301-628-5391
Joan Hurwitz, 301-628-5020
SILVER SPRING, MD – A former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow for reckless homicide and impaired adult abuse charges after mistakenly administering the wrong medication that killed an elderly patient in 2017. The American Nurses Association (ANA) extends its sincerest condolences to the family of the patient who died and to all those who are suffering because of this event.
ANA supports a full and confidential peer review process in which medical errors can be examined and system improvements and corrective action plans can be established to ensure that errors such as this do not occur in the future. Swift and appropriate action should and must always be taken when medical errors occur.
Health care is highly complex and ever-changing resulting in a high risk and error-prone system. However, the criminalization of medical errors could have a chilling effect on reporting and process improvement. The Code of Ethics for Nurses states that while ensuring that nurses are held accountable for individual practice, errors should be corrected or remediated, and disciplinary action taken only if warranted. When error occurs, whether it is one’s own or that of a coworker, nurses may neither participate in, nor condone through silence, any attempts to conceal the error.
ANA acknowledges that the full facts and circumstances of this incident are still developing. This tragic incident should serve as reminder to all nurses, other health care professionals, and administrators that we must be constantly vigilant at the patient and system level. ANA stands ready in support of patients, nurses, and other healthcare providers in achieving high reliability in organizations to prevent these types of incidents from reoccurring.
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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org.
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