Police assault nurse for protecting unconscious patient

Nurse
Nurse

In a shocking video released Thursday, a nurse at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, was seen being handcuffed and dragged into a police car after she refused to let a police detective draw blood from an unconscious patient without the patient’s consent.

Bodycam and hospital surveillance footage of the incident that happened July 26 showed detective Jeff Payne insisting that the on-duty nurse Alex Wubbels let him get a blood sample from a patient who was a victim in a car crash, that led to a fatality, in Cache County earlier in the day.

However, Wubbels turned him down stating hospital policy dictated that blood could not be taken from an unconscious patient, without the patient’s consent, unless there is a warrant allowing the draw or the patient is under arrest. After further insistence by Payne, the footage shows Wubbels talking on the phone with several hospital officials and repeating the hospital’s policy.

Payne then acknowledges that none of the three requirements were in place but says he has the authority to draw. When Wubbels does not budge, Payne is seen telling her she is under arrest: “We are done, we are done, you are under arrest.” He then grabs her, pulls her arms behind her back and handcuffs her while Wubbels is heard screaming in outrage. The video then shows the detective dragging her out of the hospital and putting her inside a patrol car.

“You’re assaulting me stop! I’ve done nothing wrong! This is crazy! This is crazy,” Wubbels is heard saying as she is being dragged out. “Why is he so angry?”

One of the hospital’s authorities on the phone in Wubbels’ hand could also be heard protesting: “Sir you are making a huge mistake right now.”

Other detectives around Payne are heard trying to calm him down, with one officer saying: “I don’t think this arrest is going to stick.”

Although Wubbels was later released and no charges were filed against her, she and her attorney Kara Porter said in a press conference held Thursday that they released the footage as evidence of how health care workers are being bullied and harassed by the police.

“I can’t sit on this video and not attempt to speak out both to re-educate and inform,” she said. “They [police agencies] need to be having conversations about what is appropriate intervention,” she said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“I just feel betrayed, I feel angry and I feel a lot of things. The only job I have is to keep my patient safe. Blood is your blood that is your property. When a patient comes in a critical state that blood is extremely important. I don’t take it lightly,” she added.

Reacting to the incident, Salt Lake police Sergeant Brandon Shearer said the department has started an internal investigation. He added that Payne was temporarily suspended from the department’s blood draw program — where detectives are trained to get blood samples — but was not taken off-duty.

In a written report, Payne claimed that he was advised by Lieutenant James Tracy, the watch commander on duty that night, to arrest Wubbels for interfering with a police investigation if she refused to give him the sample.

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