Emerging Issues in Security

After Police Incident, Nurses Group Calls for Action

You probably recall the incident in which a Salt Lake City Police Department officer forcibly arrested a nurse who refused to let the officer take blood from an unconscious patient. Now, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is calling on the department to conduct a full investigation, make amends to the nurse, and take action to prevent what it calls future abuse.

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The incident at University Hospital occurred in late July but video footage was not released until some weeks afterward. ANA cites the video, in which nurse Alex Wubbels shared details about the hospital’s policy with the police officers and consulted her supervisors in response to the detective’s request. In the recording, Wubbels stated that blood could not be taken from an unconscious patient unless the patient is under arrest, a warrant had been issued for the blood draw, or the patient consents.

The police officers said they had implied consent and believed the hospital’s policy contravened their duty to enforce the law. According to ANA, however, implied consent has not been the law in Utah for more than a decade. ANA cites a Supreme Court ruling that warrantless blood tests go against privacy interests and public safety, and are not allowed.

Said ANA president Pam Cipriano, “It is outrageous and unacceptable that a nurse should be treated in this way for following her professional duty to advocate on behalf of the patient as well as following the polices of her employer and the rights, health, and safety of the patient.”

According to ANA, nurses often are victims of violence on the job. In 2015, the organization adopted a policy of zero tolerance for workplace violence and called on nurses and their employers to work together to prevent and reduce such incidents.