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Global nursing body says it has 'extreme concerns' over footage showing US nurse arrest

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A global nursing body has expressed “extreme concern” over an incident in which a US nurse was arrested after refusing to allow blood to be taken from an unconscious patient.

The International Council of Nurses said the actions of nurse Alex Wubbels – revealed in a video that emerged last week, in which she refers to hospital policy as grounds for refusal – were “professionally, ethically and lawfully right”.

“ICN strongly condemns all forms of abuse and violence against nursing personnel”

International Council of Nurses

The ICN, which represents 130 national nurse organisations including the American Nurses Association (ANA), said it “strongly condemns all forms of abuse and violence against nursing personnel”.

“ICN advocates for the right of nurses to work in a safe environment, free from violence,” said the body in a statement this week.

As recently reported by Nursing Times, the footage of the event, which took place in July, also shows Ms Wubbel later shouting for help as she is bundled into a patrol car by a police officer while  working at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The video footage was posted online on YouTube and partly screened at a press conference held last week by the nurse and her lawyer.

It shows Ms Wubbel explaining to a police officer that staff should not take blood from a patient “under the influence” on behalf of the police, unless the person has been arrested, a warrant has been secured, or the patient has consented.

“We… support nurse Wubbels’ actions, which were professionally, ethically and lawfully right”

International Council of Nurses

This was following a request from the officer, detective Jeff Payne – a trained police phlebotomist – for a blood sample from the patient, who had been involved in a collision.

However, after the nurse finishes reading hospital policy, the officer states “we’re done, you’re under arrest”. The footage shows him advancing on Ms Wubbels who backs away screaming and is heard to shout: “Help! Help! Somebody help me! Stop! Stop! I did nothing wrong!”.

Ms Webbels was not subsequently charged with an offence but at the press conference last week said she had not ruled out legal action, while urging the police to rethink the way they treat hospital staff.

Salt Lake police chiefs told the Salt Lake Tribune an internal investigation had been launched and that the officer was still on duty but had been suspended from the department’s blood draw unit.

Meanwhile, officers from the blood draw team had been given additional training, the paper reported.

“[We] will continue to monitor the situation and lend our support”

International Council of Nurses

In the ICN statement released yesterday, the body said: “ICN strongly condemns all forms of abuse and violence against nursing personnel and defends the responsibilities that nurses have under their professional code of ethics, the policies and procedures of their workplace and in accordance with the law. 

“We place great importance on ethical, patient-centred practice and support nurse Wubbels’ actions, which were professionally, ethically and lawfully right,” it said.

The body referred to its code of ethics for nurses, which states that a nurse’s “primary professional responsibility is to people requiring nursing care”.

It highlighted that care provided by nurses is “unrestricted by considerations of age, colour, creed, culture, disability or illness, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, politics, race or social status”.

The body added that its work involves advocateing for the right of nurses to work in a safe environment and that it was in “close contact”with the ANA. “[We] will continue to monitor the situation and lend our support,” it said.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Something is so profoundly wrong with US cops!

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