She was harassed and handcuffed for doing her job.
For refusing to allow an unlawful blood draw, a nurse in Utah received violent treatment. The human rights violation has infuriated hundreds of thousands of people — and for good reason.
In the following video, Alex Wubbels of Salt Lake City is seen being chased, assaulted and dragged off in handcuffs by an overly aggressive police officer. Her scream, “Somebody help me!” is ignored.
Her crime, reportedly, was refusing to allow Detect Jeff Payne to obtain a blood sample from an unconscious patient. Because it goes against the code of ethics, the health professional refused his request. She told him that there are only three possible situations where she can legally draw blood from the patient at his request, and they follow:
- There is a Warrant
- The patient is awake and gives his consent
- The patient is under arrest
Her refusal resulted in her being assaulted by a police officer. Not only was her nursing license on the line, she was threatened with arrest — for doing the right thing.
Watch the footage below:
Shortly after the ordeal, Nurse.org released the following statement:
“She refused to violate the patient’s rights and HIPAA policy. Per hospital policy, blood cannot be drawn from unconscious patients.
Despite following hospital policy, the officer not only arrested Wubbels but, as seen in the video, assaulted and violently dragged her out of the hospital. He insisted that he was permitted to obtain the blood sample. However, he actually admitted to not meeting any of the policy requirements.
Wubbels is witnessed in the video repeating the hospital policy several times, consulting with healthcare administration, and following the appropriate protocol.
Payne is heard insisting on collecting the sample and stating, “she’s going to jail” if a sample was not obtained. He continues, “I either go away with blood vials or body in tow.”
Wubbels’ patient – William Gray, a 43-year-old reserve officer and truck driver, remained unconscious in the burn unit after his semi truck was hit by another motorist during a high-speed chase – fleeing police. According to Payne’s report – the deceased assailant, Marco Torres, crashed into Gray, and died on the scene. Gray remains in serious condition at University Hospital.
It can be argued that Payne deprived Wubbels of her rights as a law-abiding citizen and was seeking to deprive another citizen of his rights by attempting to collect his blood – without consent or warrant while he remained unconscious. Furthermore, assault on a healthcare worker is a felony.
Per Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer, an internal investigation by the Salt Lake City police department is ongoing and Payne remains on duty. He has, however, been suspended from his position as a Phlebotomist within the department’s blood-draw program.
According to officer Payne’s written report, by refusing to allow him to obtain a blood sample Wubbels was interfering with a police investigation. He was advised by Lt. James Tracy, the on duty watch commander, to put Wubbels in custody if she continued to refuse the blood sample. Tracy had informed Wubbels that he believed they had “implied consent” however, she stood by hospital policy and refused to allow the blood draw without a warrant.
Wubbels’ Attorney, Karra Porter, states that Utah has not had an “implied consent” law since 2007 and the U.S Constitution does not permit warrantless blood tests.
Though she was not charged and does not plan to file a lawsuit – Wubbels is using her experience to speak out against police harassment of healthcare workers and to advocate for better education of police officers.
Wubbels stated, “I can’t sit on this video and not attempt to speak out both to re-educate and inform. They need to be having conversations about what is an appropriate intervention.”
According to her attorney, she feels that the department will take the appropriate steps to better educate its officers.
In a recent interview, Wubbels is seen in tears, advocating for her patient and rightfully defending her actions, “The only job I have as a nurse is to keep my patients safe. Blood just gets thrown around like a simple thing but, blood is your blood. That is your property.”
On behalf of Nurse.org – we stand strong with Alex Wubbels and all nurses who put their patients first even when faced with the most difficult circumstances.”
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