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Utah hospital bars cops from contact with nurses after ‘appalling’ arrest

A Salt Lake City police detective handcuffed a nurse after she prevented him from collecting blood from an unconscious patient. (Screen grab via Deseret News)

The University of Utah Hospital, where a nurse was manhandled and arrested by police as she protected the legal rights of a patient, has imposed new restrictions on law enforcement, including barring officers from patient-care areas and from direct contact with nurses.

Gordon Crabtree, interim chief executive of the hospital, said at a Monday news conference that he was “deeply troubled” by the arrest and manhandling of burn unit nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26. In accord with hospital policy and the law, she had refused to allow a Salt Lake City police officer to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient. Wubbels obtained a copy of the body cam video of the confrontation and, after consulting her lawyer, the hospital and police officials, released it last week.

“This will not happen again,” Crabtree said, praising Wubbels for “putting her own safety at risk” to “protect the rights of patients.”

Margaret Pearce, chief nursing officer for the University of Utah hospital system, said she was “appalled” by the officer’s actions and has already implemented changes in hospital protocol to avoid any repetition.

She said police will no longer be permitted in patient-care areas, such as the burn unit where Wubbels was the charge nurse on the day of the incident and from emergency rooms.

In addition, officers will have to deal with “house supervisors” instead of nurses when they have a request.