Judiciary committee passes Nurse Wubbels 'blood draw' legislation

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - Lawmakers are now making sure what happened to nurse Alex Wubbles never happens again.

A Judiciary Committee gave its unanimous approval to a "blood draw" bill sponsored by Rep. Craig Hall of West Valley.

Nurse Wubbels was arrested this summer while working at the University of Utah hospital.  She refused to allow a Salt Lake City police officer to draw blood from a patient without a warrant.

Her attorney, Karra Porter, obtained the body camera footage of the incident.  It showed a frantic Nurse Wubbels getting arrested and an officer demanding blood from a patient.  There is loud screaming and heated words exchanged during the skirmish.  Once Porter released the video to the media, it went viral. In the end, Nurse Wubbels was right, the officer was wrong and was fired.

"I don't think anyone here believes what happened was acceptable and many things went wrong that day," said Rep. Craig Hall as he addressed the members of the committee.

He said his legislation would prevent it from happening again.

Before getting a blood draw from a patient, the legislation would require three things:

  • Police must have a warrant in hand
  • or the patient gives consent
  • or a representative of the patient authorizes the blood draw.

"In our view, the bill doesn't change the law," said Porter before the committee.  "It doesn't clarify anything.  The law was clear to begin with and has been clear for years."

She told lawmakers, the current law was covered by different statutes and this will unify it into one law.  But Porter told lawmakers she is concerned what will happen to medical personnel if they still refuse to allow a blood draw for medical reasons, even if police have a warrant.

"Let's say if that nurse had serious concerns, say patient safety or other reasons and did not want to participate in it, that person would still be subject to arrest under this 'unwilling to obey an order,'"  Porter said.

Porter wants immunity drafted into the legislation.  Rep. Hall said he or another lawmaker will continue working on that issue before the full legislation acts on it this winter.

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