Nurse Arrested After Protecting Patient From Blood Draw

Marcia Frellick

September 01, 2017

Video images released Thursday show a Utah nurse screaming while being arrested for refusing to allow an officer to draw blood from an unconscious patient.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, the images came from officers' body cameras and University Hospital burn unit footage and were released in a news conference.

The video shows that after the nurse, Alex Wubbels, explained to Salt Lake Police Detective Jeff Payne that, according to the hospital's policy, the police needed a warrant or consent from the patient or had to put the patient under arrest before she could allow a blood draw, she was handcuffed and shoved into a patrol car while she screamed, "Help! Help! Somebody help me! Stop! Stop! I did nothing wrong!" She was not charged, but several news reports indicated she was in the patrol car about 20 minutes.

In the video, Payne acknowledges that none of those three conditions had been met but says he still has the authority to take the blood.

The paper reported the patient was injured in a July 26 collision in Utah that left another driver dead.

According to the Tribune, Payne wrote in a report that he was carrying out a request from Logan police to draw the sample to check whether it showed the patient had illicit substances in his blood at the time of the crash.

In a videotaped statement after the incident, Wubbels said, "The only job I have as a nurse is to keep my patients safe. A blood draw just gets thrown around like it's some simple thing. But blood is your blood, that's your property."

The Washington Post reports, "Wubbels was right. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that blood can only be drawn from drivers for probable cause, with a warrant."

Today the American Nurses Association (ANA) released a statement expressing outrage and is "calling for the Salt Lake City Police Department to conduct a full investigation, make amends to the nurse, and take action to prevent future abuses."

"It is outrageous and unacceptable that a nurse should be treated in this way for following her professional duty to advocate on behalf of the patient as well as following the policies of her employer and the law," said ANA President Pam Cipriano, PhD, RN.  

The encounter is now the subject of an internal investigation by the police department, the Tribune reported.

According to the Washington Post, Salt Lake police spokesman Sgt. Brandon Shearer told local media that Payne was suspended from the department's blood draw unit but is still on active duty.

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