A recent encounter between Nurse Alex Wubbels and a police officer who arrested Wubbels for refusing to let the officer draw blood from an unconscious crash victim led the Utah hospital to make changes to their protocol. According to The New York Times, nurses at the hospital will no longer deal directly with law enforcement officers as part of the new policy. Officers will be asked to check in at the front desk and interact with a supervisor who is trained in law and hospital policy.
“What I can say is that I stood my ground. I stood for what was right, which was to protect the patient. As a nurse, any nurse, I think, would have done exactly what I did.”
Wubbels was the charge nurse on the burn unit at the University of Utah Hospital where the unconscious crash victim was being treated. The man was not a suspect in the wreck which killed another driver, but police asked for his blood to be drawn. Hospital policy states that police need a judge’s order or the patient’s consent, or the patient must be under arrest before obtaining a blood sample. After citing hospital policy and refusing to allow police to draw blood from the patient, Detective Jeff Payne handcuffed Wubbels and placed her in a police car. Wubbels was later released without charge.
The arrest was captured on body-cam video and has prompted apologies from the Salt Lake City mayor and police department. The new hospital protocol regarding nurse interactions with law enforcement was announced this week by Margaret Pearce, chief nursing officer at the hospital, hospital leadership, and the university’s police chief. Pearce tells MSN.com, “I need to make sure this never, ever, ever happens to another one of our care providers again.”
The change in hospital policy will allow nurses to focus on caring for their patients, and 2,500 nurses have since been trained on the new protocol. University of Utah Hospital CEO Gordon Crabtree praised Wubbels for acting with integrity and professionalism while risking her own safety to ensure the privacy of her patient. Discussing the incident with MSN.com, Wubbels recalls: “What I can say is that I stood my ground. I stood for what was right, which was to protect the patient. As a nurse, any nurse, I think, would have done exactly what I did.”
To learn more about the hospital’s decision to change their protocol following Wubbels’ arrest, visit here.
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