Nurse Wubbels…If you haven’t heard, seen, or read this story, here is a link
to The Washington Post
article, which includes the video. Briefly, nurse Alex Wubbels was arrested after refusing to allow a detective to obtain a blood sample from an unconscious patient. And here are the details:
- The detective didn’t have a warrant and the patient was not under arrest.
- Consent could not be obtained because the patient was unconscious.
- Nurse Wubbels followed hospital policy – and the law – by refusing the blood draw.
- Nurse Wubbels acted professionally and responsibly, by confirming policy with her supervisor.
- Nurse Wubbels was threatened, assaulted, and arrested.
My initial reactions were anger and shock, and these feelings still come to the surface when I read the story and watch the video. After more time has passed and I’ve given it more thought, three words come to mind: collaboration, communication, and cooperation. Here’s why…
My experiences with law enforcement at the bedside have always been positive. If there was a patient in our unit who was under arrest, the officers and nurses depended on each other to share information with each other that was necessary and within the law.
Oftentimes, if a patient was restrained or combative, the officers were a calming presence for all the hospital staff; we felt safe. I think (hope) that the officers knew, we were providing care to a patient and would uphold the highest level of care, no matter who that patient was.
I don’t know anything about training of law enforcement, but I know how much emphasis is placed on communication during a nurse’s education! We focus on verbal and nonverbal cues, learn strategies to get the information we need, and practice our communication skills from those very first semesters of nursing school. It’s an important part of our job and I must give a shoutout to nurse Wubbels for maintaining professionalism despite being bullied.
I think of cooperation, not in the sense of doing what one is told, but to take this unfortunate incident and work together to learn from it. As nurses, we are obligated to our patients. Who are police officers obligated to? Is it the public? Is it the law? Nurse Wubbels put the patient first, while risking her own well-being and safety. The detective in this case did not demonstrate duty to the public, nor the law. It is that cooperation that is missing here – respectfully working together to meet the goals of our chosen professions and to serve the people who depend on us.
We’ve all got a job to do – and to do it well, we must work together.
*At the time of this writing, two members of law enforcement are on administrative leave, and an investigation is underway.