Video: Nurse arrested after refusing to draw blood from unconscious patient

By: Guest Author | Posted on: Sep 05, 2017

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A nurse claims she was assaulted by a Salt Lake City police officer when she refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient.

Alex Wubbels was working as a charge nurse at the University of Utah Hospital on July 26 when Police Detective Jeff Payne requested a blood sample from a semi-truck driver who had been injured in a head-on collision, KSL reports. Another motorist who caused the crash was reportedly fleeing from police and died at the scene.

Payne said he needed the victim's blood sample for an investigation, in a body camera video released during a press conference on Thursday.

Wubbels refused the request, citing a hospital policy which does not allow blood to be taken from an unconscious patient unless the patient is under arrest, unless the patient gives consent or unless there is a warrant from a judge. 

Still, the officer pressed for a sample. When Wubbels continued to deny the order, Payne handcuffed her and marched her out of the hospital.

"I'm just a nurse trying to protect my patients," Wubbels said in the video. 

Wubbels was in the officer's patrol car for 20 minutes before she was released. Charges were never filed against her.

"I just feel betrayed, I feel angry," Wubbels said during Thursday's press conference. "I feel a lot of things. And I am still confused. I’m a health care worker. The only job I have is to keep my patients safe. A blood draw, it just gets thrown around there like it’s some simple thing. But blood is your blood. That’s your property. And when a patient comes in in a critical state, that blood is extremely important and I don’t take it lightly."

Payne said the blood sample would essentially protect, not punish the patient, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. He reportedly said Lt. James Tracy, an on-duty watch commander, advised him to arrest Wubbels for interfering with a police investigation if the nurse refused his order.

During the news conference, Wubbels' attorney, Karra Porter, said Payne also believed he was authorized to collect the sample because of "implied consent." However, Porter said that law changed in Utah years ago.

On Friday, Salt Lake City police put Detective Jeff Payne on paid leave and prosecutors called for a criminal investigation.

The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor also apologized and changed department policies following the July 26 incident.

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