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Hospital Officials Update Protocol For Police, Nurse Interactions

Erik Neumann
Senior administrators from the University of Utah Hospital discussed a new protocol for interactions between police and nurses on Monday. From left to right: Margaret Pearce, Dale Brophy, Gordon Crabtree, and Dr. Steve Morris.

The controversial arrest of a University Hospital nurse has prompted a change in how law enforcement officers interact with University Hospital staff.

Hospital administrators and the chief of the University of Utah’s Department of Public Safety said the new protocol puts a buffer between visiting law enforcement officers and medical staff, like nurse Alex Wubbels, who was wrongly arrested by a Salt Lake City police officer in late July. 

Margaret Pearce is the chief nursing officer at the University of Utah Hospital.

"The nurses on the unit who are caring for the patients are not going to interact with police officers at all," Pearce said. 

Pearce said visiting officers now meet first with a House Supervisor in a non-emergency area of the hospital. House Supervisors oversee hospital operations and are on-site 24-hours-a-day. 

Gordon Crabtree is University Hospital’s CEO. He said the hospital doesn’t expect nurses or police to be fully educated on medical laws, but House Supervisors will be. 

"Our people are gonna be trained, and they’ll help advocate and make sure the police that show up understand the legal effects of what they’re asking," Crabtree said. 

Alex Wubbels is the nurse arrested at University Hospital for refusing to allow a Salt Lake City police detective to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient. On Monday she appeared on the Today Show and explained her decision to release the arresting officer’s bodycam footage.

"It was a little bit of a trigger to say, ‘Alright, this is what you need to see. If you’re not willing to see it then I’ll show it to you.’" Wubbels said. 

University officials stressed that Wubbels acted correctly and followed the hospital’s policy to protect her patient’s safety.   

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