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Nurse handcuffed and arrested over refusal to take blood from unconscious patient


Video footage showing a US nurse being arrested and dragged screaming out of a hospital for refusing to allow blood to be taken from an unconscious patient has sent shockwaves around the globe.

Nurse Alex Wubbels is shown shouting for help as she is placed under arrest, manhandled out of the hospital doors and handcuffed, before being bundled into the back of a patrol car.

“I’m just trying to do what I am supposed to do, that’s all”

Alex Wubbels

The incident at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July was captured on film by the hospital and the police officer in question’s body camera. It was subsequently posted on the YouTube website.

In the video, Ms Wubbels is shown reading out hospital policy to detective Jeff Payne – a trained police phlebotomist – who had asked to take a blood sample from a patient involved in a collision.

The policy states that blood cannot be taken from a patient believed to be “under the influence” for police purposes, unless they have been arrested, a warrant for the procedure has been obtained or the patient has consented.

“I’m just trying to do what I am supposed to do, that’s all,” the nurse tells the officer.

Meanwhile, Ms Wubbels’ manager is heard on speakerphone in the background asking the detective why he is “blaming the messenger” and telling him he is “making a huge mistake, because you are threatening a nurse”.

University Hospital in Salt Lake City

Nurse arrested after refusing to take blood from unconscious patient

Source: Salt Lake Tribune/YouTube

Alex Wubbens is arrested

At that point, the officer states “we’re done, you’re under arrest” and is shown advancing on Ms Wubbels who backs away screaming and is heard to shout: “Help! Help! Somebody help me! Stop! Stop! I did nothing wrong!”

Parts of the footage were screened at a press conference held this week by the nurse and her lawyer, where they called on police to rethink the way they treated hospital staff and said they had not ruled out legal action.

In the end, Ms Wubbels was not charged with an offence. She said she had watched the video footage several times but said “it hurts to relive it”, reported the Salt Lake Tribune.

Salt Lake police chiefs told the paper an internal investigation had been launched. 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.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Poor lady only doing her job and protecting the rights of the patient.

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  • Uk Police no different in their heavy handed tactics. Threatened with obstruction when I followed policy and asked the policeman to leave the ward! Security worse than useless because he was a policeman!

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  • Police everywhere are becoming increasingly thuggish. I hope the nurse sues the pants off him.

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  • Perhaps the US law is not the same as an individual hospital's policy. If not, the law supercedes policy. Please keep us informed.

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