The Washington State Nurses Association joins the American Nurses Association, the Utah Nurses Association and registered nurses across the country in expressing outrage over the treatment of a registered nurse in Utah who was handcuffed and arrested by a police officer for following her hospital’s policy and the law.
The incident occurred July 26 at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, and video footage of the incident was recently released. Registered nurse Alex Wubbels was arrested after refusing to draw blood from an unconscious patient who had been injured in a collision and was a patient on the burn unit.
“Patients have rights, and nurses have a legal and moral obligation to protect those rights,” said WSNA Executive Director Sally Watkins, Ph.D., RN. “In order to obtain a blood draw from a patient, law enforcement needs patient consent or a court order. The police officer who arrested Nurse Wubbels for refusing to take the blood draw from an unconscious patient had neither a warrant nor the patient’s consent. Nurse Wubbels did exactly the right thing. In addition, pulling a nurse away from her duty in this manner endangers all of the patients under her care.”
Nursing’s Code of Ethics says, “the nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient.
Watkins added: “It is completely outrageous that a registered nurse, following hospital policy and the law, should be treated in this manner by law enforcement. As nurses, we protect and care for our patients. Sometimes that includes defending their rights. We fully support Nurse Wubbels and would fight for any nurse in Washington state who was mistreated simply for doing their job of protecting and advocating for their patient.”