Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ER nurse sues cop for handcuffing her during dispute over drawing suspect's blood

Is it too much to ask of police that they follow legal and medical protocol? Apparently. I keep forgetting the police are above the law.

    Chicago Sun Times -

    A head emergency room nurse at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital has sued the city and a Chicago Police officer for handcuffing her and putting her in the back of a squad car during a dispute over drawing blood from a suspected drunken driver.

    Lisa Hofstra said she was the “charge nurse” in the emergency room on Aug. 1 when the officer approached her at about 4 a.m. The officer requested she perform a blood work-up on a DUI suspect, the lawsuit said.

    Hofstra told the officer the suspect needed to be admitted to the hospital before she could draw the person’s blood. Hofstra said she told a police lieutenant that it was the hospital’s protocol to wait until a suspect was admitted, and the lieutenant agreed, she said.

    The lieutenant left the emergency room.

    Then Hofstra called her supervisors, but before they could respond, the officer put her in handcuffs in front of her co-workers and escorted her to a squad car, according to the lawsuit.

    “I in no way intended to block this police officer’s ability to do his job,” she said in a news conference today. “He went about it in the wrong way. ... I would like him to be reprimanded.”

    Hofstra said she filed her lawsuit in federal court last month in an effort to have the officer punished for violating her rights.

    She was in the car for about 45 minutes before the situation was resolved, Hofstra said. The cuffs were too tight, requiring treatment in the hospital after she was released from custody, she said.

    A security video of the incident shows the officer smiling outside the squad car as Hofstra sat inside.

    “He feels comfortable about smiling when he just illegally arrested someone,” said Hofstra’s attorney Blake Horwitz. “He is enjoying his power.”

    The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the incident. Hofstra said the authority’s investigators have been interviewing witnesses to the incident.

    No police report was filed, and no charges were filed, Horwitz said. But he characterized his client as being wrongly arrested.

    The lawsuit, filed Aug. 25, gives only a last name for the officer. Roderick Drew, a spokesman for the police department, said he was prohibited from identifying the officer under union rules.

    Hofstra said she normally has a good relationship with police officers at the hospital, where she’s been an emergency room nurse since November 2008.

    Hofstra said it was a major problem for her to be removed from the emergency room at a time when there were numerous patients suffering from “bad trauma.”

    She was responsible for triage — the process of deciding which patients need the most urgent attention.

    “If this officer is treating me the way he treated me, what is he going to do to people on the street?” Hofstra said, adding that she filed her lawsuit to “stand up for nurses.”