Earlier this year, the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado sent warnings to over 3,000 surgical patients who received care from August 17, 2015 to January 22, 2016. The warnings disclosed that the patients may have been exposed to blood-borne diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C during their time at the hospital. The hospital offered testing for patients free of cost.
In a prior blog post, we discussed this alarming event. The source of the problem was a surgical technologist, Rocky Allen. The initial reports stated that Allen had be stealing and using drugs from the surgical unit. Allen had taken a syringe of fentanyl, and replaced it with a syringe of saline. Fentanyl is a very powerful painkiller used for surgeries. Allen was caught soon after and subjected to a drug test, where he tested positive for both marijuana and fentanyl. It was also discovered that Allen had previously been fired from other medical centers for stealing pain medication before he began employment with Swedish Medical Center.
Allen now faces criminal charges for his theft and use of the drug. His medical records were introduced into the case. Initially, the records were sealed, however, they made reference to a "blood-borne pathogen," which prompted the release of the warnings to the patients who received surgical care while Allen was employed. Now some shocking details about this have been released.
Allen Tests Positive For HIV
A recent news report has brought a disturbing fact to light: Allen has tested positive for HIV. He was not positive for hepatitis C or hepatitis B. Of the over 3,000 patients who received warnings, only 2,500 have been tested. Approximately 500 patients neglected to attend their follow up tests, and close to another 500 have not attended any testing at all. Luckily the patients that have received tests were not reported positive. Colorado health officials have come forward with a warning statement. They stated that simply because there are no reported positive tests, does not mean that there is no disease transmission. There are still a number of people that have not been tested. Until all potentially affected patients can confirm the test, officials cannot be sure whether or not any transmission occurred.
Allen had worked in five more hospitals across four states. All of these hospitals have come forward to notify patients of the possible HIV exposure, and urged patients to undergo testing. Allen pled not guilty in federal court, and he is set to go to trial in August of this year. If you or a loved one has been the victim of another's negligence, contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian today.