In most newspapers, and on most television networks, there has been news coverage of the “Shocking video of a nurse being arrested in Utah for refusing to draw blood from a patient”.
I watched the entire video that was recorded by a Salt Lake City police officer’s body camera, that was approximately 20 minutes in length. The incident that was recorded on video was not shocking to me, it seemed very logical and just.
Many people are being very vocal about “how horrible the police officer acted”. I have not heard or seen anyone defending the police officer’s actions. It is a shame that there are no attorneys, medical doctors, nurses, or law enforcement officials that are explaining and defending the police officer’s actions.
I believe that it has been the practice in the United States for decades, that when there is a traffic fatality, police investigators request blood to be drawn from the drivers involved, whether they are conscious, unconscious, or deceased. It is very important that this evidence is collected as soon as possible to determine the blood levels of alcohol, legal drugs, and illegal drugs in the drivers’ systems at the time that the accident occurred.
Unlike breathalyzer tests and blood draws that are requested by police when a person is under suspicion for DUI, where it is common for drivers to refuse, when there is a traffic fatality, drivers no longer have the right of refusal. It is not a DUI investigation, it is now a vehicular homicide/manslaughter investigation.
Here is a brief excerpt about this area of law:
“Several states, like Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas, have laws like Connecticut’s that require police to have drivers who survive an accident resulting in death or serious injury submit to a chemical test if the police have probable cause to believe the person was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some states have upheld these “involuntary” tests in cases where police used reasonable force to obtain blood samples.
Other states, like California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Washington, permit police to require these drivers to submit to chemical tests.”
For decades U.S. hospitals have cooperated with law enforcement officials in taking blood draws from drivers following a traffic fatality, because it is a homicide/manslaughter investigation.
Please watch the entire video and listen carefully. The police detective had made a request for blood to be drawn from an unconscious truck driver that had been involved in a fatal car accident. The police detective’s request has been denied by nurse Alex Wubbel. The police detective has waited for some time while nurse Alex Wubbel discusses what to do with other hospital administrators. The police detective has been instructed by his supervisor, to arrest nurse Wubbel for interfering with a police investigation if she continues to refuse to draw blood from the patient.
Prior to arresting nurse Alex Wubbel, she explains to the detective what the hospital’s policy is for drawing blood for police, the patient has to give consent, be under arrest, or there has to be a warrant. The police do not have the option #1 or option #2, because the patient is unconscious.
Now, to clarify some things. The hospital itself had already drawn blood from the patient for their own purposes, to perform various blood test and analysis. The nurse Alex Wubbel was refusing to draw blood for police purposes, and was citing hospital policy. There had been some mention that the truck driver was “an innocent victim”.
From the police point of view, hospital policy is not Utah State Law. How and why is this nurse deciding that her thoughts, opinions, and understanding of hospital policy override law enforcement and Utah State Law? How and why is this nurse deciding how this traffic fatality is going to be investigated, how evidence is going to be collected, and whether the patient is innocent of any wrongdoing?
In the phone conversation that nurse Alex Wubbel was having with her supervisor in front of the police detective, she began to characterize the detective’s behavior as being threatening. The police detective had had enough of nurse Alex Wubbel refusing to comply with his request for a blood draw, and he proceeded to arrest her for interfering with a police investigation.
If you have ever seen police arrest a female, as I have seen many times in person, and on the news, it most often goes the same way. A female will not cooperate with police officers and defy them, no matter how polite, clear, and restrained they are. When the police try to make an arrest, the female will resist arrest, try to get away, and struggle. When a police officer has to hold the female with just enough force to keep them from getting away and handcuff them, they start screaming, “Stop, stop, you’re hurting me! Why are you hurting me!”
All of the people who are not law enforcement officers who see this in person and watch this on video say, “My God, look at what he is doing to her, that’s horrible!”
How would nurses like it, if every time they had to perform a procedure on a patient, the patient started screaming, “Stop, stop, you’re hurting me! Why are you doing this to me!” It would get old, wouldn’t it?
When nurse Wubbel is in the detective’s police car, a police supervisor explains to her very clearly, that she is under arrest for interfering with a police investigation. He explains that it does not matter what her hospital policy is, it matters what the law is. He asks her why did she decide that she was not going to cooperate with the police detective’s request for a blood draw? Does she know the truck driver? Is he a friend or relative of hers?
It is very easy for the Chief of Police in Salt Lake City and the Mayor to issue a statements saying, “…the video is troubling…” or “…the officer’s actions are troubling…”
How would you like it if you were a police detective that had to investigate a police chase, a traffic fatality, other life threatening injuries, multiple inured victims, destruction of property, many different crime scene locations, with difficulty securing all these different crime scene locations, because they are roadways which are currently blocked but must be cleared, in handling just this one incident, and you and other police officers are being held up at the hospital for more than an hour by a nurse that is refusing to collect blood from a patient because of her interpretation of hospital policy. Blood has already been taken from the patient by the hospital for their own purposes, without his consent.
Most people are making statements and writing comments about “people’s rights” and “people’s consent”. The fire department showing up and getting people out of vehicles is done without their consent. The fire department doesn’t say, we have a policy that we only get people out of vehicles if they consent, are under arrest, or there is a warrant. Likewise, the ambulance EMTs don’t say to the fire department, we only transport people who give consent, are under arrest, or there is a warrant.
The hospital does not say to the ambulance EMTs, we don’t take people unless it is with their consent, they are under arrest, or there is a warrant. But, the nurse does not cooperate with law enforcement because she is questioning the legality of what they are doing. Why is that?
It is just assumed that the fire department is there to help. It is just assumed that the ambulance EMTs are there to help. It is just assumed that the hospital is there to help. The hospital can take an unconscious patient’s blood if they want to, because they are there to help. But when it comes to drawing blood from an unconscious patient at the request of law enforcement, this nurse decides that she needs to look into this.
How about this, what if when law enforcement receives a 911 call from this hospital, or any hospital, instead of heading that way, law enforcement says, “No, no, no, we have to get consent from each of the patients and each of the personnel at your hospital before we come onto the property, because we don’t want to violate anyone’s rights, not everyone might want us to be there. When you can get consent from everyone, let us know, then we will come.” The police often have to do their job without people’s consent.