Utah Nurse Arrested for Refusing to Let Police Draw Blood from Patient
Video footage shows the burn unit nurse explaining policies which protect patients from unlawfully having blood drawn by police.
New video from police body cameras and hospital footage shows the head nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit being arrested by a Salt Lake City detective on July 26 for refusing to let him draw blood from an unconscious patient.
In a shortened clip of the video footage, Nurse Alex Wubbels is seen talking calmly to Detective Jeff Payne, showing him an official hospital policy document agreed upon by the Salt Lake City police for what needs to be done if the police want to draw a blood sample from a patient.
Wubbels reads from the document and informs the detective that in order to draw blood from a patient, the patient needs to have been placed under arrest, given their consent, or a digital warrant has to have been issued – none of which applied to the patient in question.
In June 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that police must have a warrant before requiring a suspected intoxicated driver take a blood test.
Payne says the nurse would be arrested and charged if she refused to let him have access to the patient.
Wubbels is then seen speaking on a cell phone with her supervisor who says, “Sir, you’re making a huge mistake because you’re threatening a nurse.”
Payne then attempts to grab the phone from Wubbels, repeatedly saying, “We’re done.”
The video then cuts to the detective grabbing Wubbels as she cries and screams, “Somebody help me”, and “You’re assaulting me”.
The nurse is then handcuffed as Payne tells bystanders that she is under arrest. A man in the video responds by saying, “For doing her job?” Payne says he is doing his job, too. Wubbels is then shown being put in a police cruiser.
Another police officer is heard on the video telling Wubbels that she should have allowed Payne to collect the blood sample and that she was obstructing justice.
The patient Payne was attempting to draw blood from was 43-year-old William Gray, a reserve officer in Rigby, Idaho, who drives semi-trucks as a second job. He was hit head-on by a suspect who was fleeing from the Utah Highway Patrol.
Police say Gray was on fire when he exited his truck and had to be sedated. As of Thursday, Gray was listed in serious condition. The fleeing suspect died in the crash.
Response to the Video Footage
Ultimately, Wubbels was not charged but says that it hurts to relive it, reports the Independent. “I just feel betrayed, I feel angry. I feel a lot of things and I’m still confused.”
The footage was released by Wubbels and her attorney, Karra Porter, at a press conference on Thursday, where they requested that police reassess how they treat hospital workers and said that legal action may still be taken.
According to Salt Lake police spokesman Sergeant Brandon Shearer, Payne has been suspended from the department’s blood draw unit but is still on active duty. Shearer also says additional training has been held for all officers in the blood draw unit, according to The Salk Lake Tribune.
Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown says the footage he saw was “very alarming”.
Wubbels, who has been a nurse at the hospital since 2009, says her main job is to keep her patients safe.
“A blood draw, it just gets thrown around like it’s some simple thing,” say says. “But your blood is your blood. That’s your property.”
Payne says he wanted the blood sample to protect the patient, not to punish him. He also says he was advised by Lieutenant James Tracy, the watch commander who was on duty the night of July 26, to arrest Wubbels if she refused to give him the blood sample.