Nurse handcuffed and dragged screaming from Utah hospital by police officer in blood test row

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A police officer is facing a possible criminal investigation after he handcuffed a nurse and dragged her screaming from a hospital when she refused to take blood from an unconscious patient.

Alex Wubbels and her lawyers released dramatic video of the arrest in Salt Lake City in the US on Friday. 

The patient, a male lorry driver, had been brought in unconscious after being involved in a head-on collision with a driver who was fleeing police. 

Medics sedated the truck driver, who was severely burned, and he arrived at the University Utah Hospital in a comatose state. 

Police body camera footage: Nurse Alex Wubbels is arrested for refusing to take a patient’s blood (AP)

Detective Jeff Payne had been sent to collect blood from the patient and check for any illicit substances, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

A still image taken from video footage of Ms Wubbels being arrested (AP)

But Ms Wubbels, , a former alpine skier who competed in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics, refused to take the blood sample as the police officer did not have a warrant and the truck driver was not awake to consent. 

She said she adhered to her training and hospital protocols to protect the rights of a patient who could not speak for himself.

Police body-camera video showed Ms Wubbels, who works in the burns unit, calmly explaining that she could not take blood from the patient, 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.

Nurse Ms Wubbels is forcibly removed from a hospital after refusing to take a patient’s blood for police (REUTERS)

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.

Ms Wubbels followed hospital policy and advice from her bosses when she told Salt Lake City police Detective Jeff Payne that he could not get a blood sample without a warrant or consent from the patient (AP)

Prosecutors have called for a criminal investigation and Salt Lake City police put  Mr Payne on paid leave on Friday.

Ms Wubbels said: “This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme. 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.

“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.”

Police Chief Mike Brown said he was alarmed by what he had seen in the video.

Ms Wubbels 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.

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


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