Salt Lake City: Law Enforcement Versus Medical Ethics

Written by Andrew Linn on September 6, 2017

Over a month ago, a Salt Lake City police detective named Jeff Payne arrested a nurse named Alex Wubbels and dragged her out of the University of Utah Medical Center to his squad car, with her screaming for help along the way. Her crime? Refusing to draw blood from an unconscious victim (who had been injured in a car wreck).

Despite Wubbels and her supervisor explaining that the patient needed to be conscious and give consent, be under arrest or, if a warrant had been issued in order for blood to be drawn, Payne then arrested Wubbels. As it turned out, a blood sample had already been drawn by someone else as part of the medical treatment. Once Payne found out, he released Wubbels.

Payne has since then been placed on administrative leave while an investigation into the matter is ongoing. Meanwhile, another officer who was at the scene, is said to be placed on administrative leave, and Payne’s superior (who allegedly authorized Wubbels to be arrested) is also being investigated over the incident. In addition, the mayor and police chief of Salt Lake City have issued apologies to Wubbels.

As it turns out, what happened in Salt Lake City is not an isolated incident. In 2009, Lisa Hofstra, a nurse at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, was arrested by a Chicago police officer for refusing to draw blood from a DUI suspect that the officer had brought in, on the grounds that the medical center’s policy required that the suspect had to be registered as a patient before any procedure could be carried out.

Despite Hofstra and her superiors attempting to explain the situation, the officer continued to demand that blood be drawn from the suspect. The officer then arrested Hofstra and dragged her into a squad car. She was eventually released after debate had continued over the matter. Hofstra later brought a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department for false arrest and excessive use of force, which in turn settled out of court for $78,000.

It is unclear if similar incidents have occurred across the nation, or the world for that matter. But one thing is clear, there was a lack of understanding on the part of the police officers in both cases. Perhaps it was the result of the police officers’ not being trained on what is required in these matters. Or maybe the officers just did not care. So it might be best if police departments everywhere should make sure their officers are aware of hospital protocols.

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Andrew Linn
Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to and Right Impulse Media.