The videotaped arrest of a Utah nurse who refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient has sparked outrage and reform. Across the nation, burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels has been hailed as a hero for protecting her patient’s rights.
In the video, Wubbels correctly informed a police investigator that he needed a warrant or patient consent to get a sample of the patient’s blood. That’s when the conflict escalated into violence—the officer handcuffed Wubbels and forcibly dragged her out of the hospital. Wubbels can be heard yelling, “Help me! I did nothing wrong.” She was never charged with a crime.
While the Utah Nurses Association stated it was “deeply disturbed” by the video, they also recommended that the public should view it so that everyone could appreciate a nurse’s “ethical duty to act in the best interest of our patients at all time and in all settings.”
Likewise, the American Nurses Association praised Alex Wubbels’ professionalism in a press release, “Nurse Wubbels did everything right. It is imperative that law enforcement and nursing professionals respect each other and resolve conflicts through dialogue and due process.”
Unfortunately, nurses are too often the victims of workplace violence. However, in the aftermath of the arrest, University of Utah Health changed its procedures to protect its staff. According to The Washington Post, police officers must now check in at the hospital’s front desk and are required to consult house supervisors for law enforcement requests rather than nurses. Additionally, the police are no longer allowed in certain patient care areas, such as the ER or burn unit.
“University of Utah Health supports nurse Alex Wubbles, RN, and her decision to focus first and foremost on the care and well-being of her patient,” said Suzanne Winchester, University of Utah Health media relations manager, in a statement to Becker’s Hospital Review.
As a healthcare provider, what was your reaction to Alex Wubbels’ plight? Are you pleased with the hospital’s response? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!