Consent Laws Are Once Again Brought into the Spotlight

The viral video of a Utah police officer forcefully detaining a nurse for refusing to take blood from an unconscious patient, has caught the attention of news outlets across the nation. In the video, we see Alex Wubbels, a nurse at the University of Utah Hospital, being shoved out of the building in handcuffs by detective Jeff Payne. Prior to Payne’s abrupt actions, Wubbels explains that she cannot collect a blood sample without a warrant.

 Because the patient was in state of unconsciousness, consent for the test could not be given. Nurse Wubbels also explains the hospital’s policy in the video, going as far as showing a printout of the rules to the detective. However, Payne dismissed her explanation and forced her into an unmarked vehicle for interfering with an investigation. Wubbels can be heard screaming “help me, you’re assaulting me” in the viral footage.

It’s important to note that Wubbels’ actions were in line with the U.S. Supreme Court, which explicitly ruled last year that blood can be drawn from drivers only for probable cause and with a warrant. Furthermore, nurses in the United States are held to a code of ethics that promotes the rights, health, and safety of their patients. Wubbels was not only upholding this code, but also attempting to defend informed consent.

Since the incident, the Rigby Police Department released a statement about the patient in question, who turned out to be a reserve officer in their department. In the statement, they thank Wubbels and the hospital’s staff for “standing firm, and protecting Officer Gray’s rights as a patient and victim.”  The department goes on to state that at no time was the patient under suspicion for any wrongdoing.

Wubbels’ ordeal has prompted other healthcare professionals to come forward and share their stories about protecting patient rights from law enforcement.

Do you have more questions about consent laws or patient rights? Call (425) 559-9449, or contact our Bellevue team of criminal defense lawyers today. We are here to help.

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