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Arrest of ER nurse prompts new police policy

(SALT LAKE CITY) — Salt Lake City police today unveiled a new policy they hope will help officers and hospital staff avoid problems, like the much publicized arrest of a University of Utah emergency room nurse, who refused to allow a blood draw on an unconscious patient.

Police Chief Mike Brown said the policy does not deal with blood draws specifically, rather, it deals with how police officers interact with hospital staff when they arrive.  The policy involves officers checking-in with nurse supervisors, and speaking with staff if they move to areas outside of the emergency department.

Brown would not specifically say how the case related to the arrest of nurse Alex Wubbles by detective Jeff Payne.  Body camera video, that has circulated around the world, shows Payne arresting Wubbles for not allowing a blood draw on a man who was involved in fatal crash in Cache County.  Brown said there were hurt feelings on both sides after that arrest.  “I’ve always looked to nurses and hospital staff as we’re on the same team here,” Brown said.  “And so this just re-insures and emphasizes a very positive interaction with the hospital.”

The policy was unveiled at a conference of the Utah Nurses Association, who voice full support for the policy, and for Wubbles.  Board Member Aimee McClean says the policy gives nurses assurances, and a plan. “The intent of the plan is that nurses will not leave the hospital in handcuffs,” she said.

Brown said police chiefs from nearly every city in the Salt Lake Valley have looked at and approved that policy. He expects them to adopt it within their own departments.