Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Another Refusal to Draw Blood

Recently in Dallas, Jonathan Moore was involved in a crash killing a former councilwoman and her daughter.  The police were able to obtain a breathalyzer which showed a blood alcohol level of 0.00.  However, Moore failed 6 of 6 field sobriety tests and did not have normal use of his mental and physical faculties.  The Police believe that the man was on drugs and wanted the nurse to draw blood for a drug screen.

Moore had 5 prior DWI convictions (driving while intoxicated) and had been off probation just 5 days but the alcohol detection device showed no alcohol.

The arrest affidavit stated that “he had been taking Xanax” and had “bloodshot eyes and was speaking at a rapid pace.”  He could not recite the alphabet properly.

The nurse told the officers that she could not draw blood without patient consent and, because he was intoxicated, he could not give consent.

What’s interesting about this case is that the police said that he gave consent on the body camera.  The Texas Nurses Association stated that the police did not need a search warrant.  “If a person is in custody and has been arrested, law enforcement can request taking a blood draw without an individual’s consent.  It is law enforcement’s responsibility to know that the person has been arrested for an offense that does not require … consent.”

However, the hospital’s policy stated that it’s the officer’s job to obtain a warrant and cite the reason for the blood draw.  It is not the responsibility of the registered nurse.

A warrant was obtained within the hour and the blood was able to be obtained.

I would love to see clear policies on these types of issues, so nurses don’t get caught in the middle and in line with the state nurses’ association.  I think a physician’s order would have been appropriate as well.
This case is clearly different from the case in Utah with Alex Wubbels.  In that case, Wubbels was taking care of a victim of a car crash, not the person who was arrested for causing the crash.  In addition, police had not obtained consent on a body cam because he was unconscious.  The nurse in this case could obtain consent but felt that if the concern was the man was intoxicated, then he could not consent.

Again, this case could have easily been resolved with a physician order and I’m not sure why that was not obtained.

It would be nice if hospitals had clear policies and do not put their nurses in these types of position.  While nurses want to cooperate with police, they have a duty to protect patient privacy as well.

For those of you that work in the emergency room, do your hospitals have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure that you know when and under what circumstances you can draw blood?

I would love to hear your comments below.


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