Tuesday 24 April 2018

Nurse tells how blood test row police officer dragged her from hospital

Video from a police body camera shows nurse Alex Wubbels being arrested by a Salt Lake City police officer at University Hospital (Salt Lake City Police Department/Courtesy of Karra Porter via AP)
Video from a police body camera shows nurse Alex Wubbels being arrested by a Salt Lake City police officer at University Hospital (Salt Lake City Police Department/Courtesy of Karra Porter via AP)
Nurse Alex Wubbels followed hospital policy she told a police officer that he could not get a blood sample without a warrant or consent from the patient (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

A Utah police officer has been put on paid leave after he handcuffed a nurse and dragged her screaming from a hospital when she refused to allow blood to be taken from an unconscious patient.

After Alex Wubbels and her lawyers released dramatic video of the arrest, prosecutors called for a criminal investigation and Salt Lake City police put Detective Jeff Payne on paid leave on Friday.

"This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme," Ms Wubbels told The Associated Press. "And nobody stood in his way."

The Salt Lake City police chief and mayor also apologised and changed department policies in line with the guidance Ms Wubbels was following in the July 26 incident.

Ms Wubbels, a former alpine skier who competed in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, said she adhered to her training and hospital protocols to protect the rights of a patient who could not speak for himself.

"You can't just take blood if you don't have a legitimate concern for something to be tested," she said.

"It is the most personal property I think that we can have besides our skin and bones and organs."

"I was alarmed by what I saw in the video with our officer," Police Chief Mike Brown said.

Police body-camera video shows Ms Wubbels, who works in the burns unit, calmly explaining that she could not take blood from a patient who had been injured in a car accident, citing a recent change in the law.

A 2016 US Supreme Court ruling said a blood sample cannot be taken without patient consent or a warrant.

Ms Wubbels told Mr Payne that a patient had to allow a blood sample to determine intoxication or be under arrest. Otherwise, she said police needed a warrant.

The police did not have a warrant, but Mr Payne insisted and the dispute ended with him saying, "We're done, you're under arrest" and pulling her outside while she screamed and said: "I've done nothing wrong!"

Mr Payne wrote in a police report that he grabbed the nurse and took her outside to avoid causing a "scene" in the emergency room.

He said his boss, a lieutenant whose actions also were being reviewed, told him to arrest Ms Wubbels if she kept interfering.

The detective left Ms Wubbels in a hot police car for 20 minutes, and she was not charged, said her lawyer, Karra Porter.

"This has upended her worldview in a way. She just couldn't believe this could happen," Ms Porter said.

Ms Wu bbels and her lawyers released the video they obtained through a public records request to call for change.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the video was concerning and urged the police chief to ask for a criminal investigation.

P olice spokeswoman Christina Judd said the department updated its blood-draw policy last week to mirror what the hospital uses, and officers have already received additional training.

The agency has met hospital administration to ensure it does not happen again and to repair ties.

"There's a strong bond between fire, police and nurses because they all work together to help save lives, and this caused an unfortunate rift that we are hoping to repair immediately," Ms Judd said.

The patient, William Gray, is a reserve police officer in Rigby, Idaho.

He is a truck driver and was on the road when a pick-up truck fleeing from authorities slammed into him and his truck burst into flames.


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