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Hospital patient accused of assault

People in Iowa may have heard about a strange situation that unfolded in an Iowa City emergency room earlier this month. A woman who was receiving treatment for a seizure apparently became angered and decided to leave. However, she was hooked up to an IV and had a needle in her arm. Instead of waiting for a nurse to remove the IV, she allegedly ripped out the IV herself, causing blood to shoot out of the woman's arm. The nurse, who was standing nearby, was apparently sprayed with the patient's blood.

This is a scary situation for a nurse, especially when they get a patient's bodily fluids or blood on their face, skin or clothing. With fears of the Ebola virus spreading across the United States, nurses and health care workers can't be too careful when it comes to protecting their health. But what happened to the patient as a result of this incident is somewhat bizarre. The patient, who had every right to leave the emergency room by her own free will, was arrested and charged with assault for allegedly causing her blood to make contact with the nurse. Iowa has a special law which increases the penalty for assault on a law enforcement officer, health care worker, or correctional officer, and the woman therefore faces a more serious misdemeanor charge.

These allegations are somewhat shocking, and the prosecution will have to prove that the patient intended to assault the nurse. Under Iowa law, a person commits assault when they, without justification, commit an act which is intended to result in insulting or offensive contact with another. This means that in order to be found guilty of assault, prosecutors will have to prove that the woman removed her IV without justification, and did so with the intent to spray the nurse with her blood.

This woman, and others facing assault charges, should consult with an experienced Iowa criminal defense attorney about defending herself from these unusual charges. While it is an unfortunate incident for the nurse, it is a different question entirely as to whether this amounts to criminal conduct on the part of the patient.

Source: "Police say Iowa City woman spread her blood at University Hospitals," Lee Hermiston, Oct. 15, 2014

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