Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Hospital Employee's Drug Use Puts Patients at Risk of HIV and Hepatitis

Posted by Charles Gilman | May 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

With more and more research coming out that shows just common hospital injuries can be, it should not come as too much of a surprise that patients at a hospital out west are being warned that they might have been exposed to serious blood-borne pathogens after a technician was found to be abusing drugs on-site.

Numerous Patients at Risk of Infection for HIV and Hepatitis

According to the hospital as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health, the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado is issuing letters to nearly 3,000 patients who underwent surgery at the facility between August 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016. In the letters, the hospital is notifying the patients that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C while in the hospital, and offers the patients free testing to find out if they have been exposed.

Former Employee Used Surgical Drugs

The potential exposure stems from the drug addictions of a former employee at the hospital, surgical technologist ,Rocky Allen. Allen's license was suspended on January 29, 2016, after he was discovered to have been stealing a powerful painkiller, fentanyl, from operating rooms and using it on himself. On one such occasion, he took a syringe filled with fentanyl, a pain killer more powerful than morphine, and replaced it with a syringe that had saline solution in it. Soon afterwards, Allen tested positive for both fentanyl and marijuana.

Because fentanyl is a controlled substance, Allen is facing criminal charges for his on-site drug abuse. His medical records have been introduced as evidence in the criminal case and, though they are almost entirely sealed, they refer to a “blood-borne pathogen,” hinting that Allen carries a communicable disease. If this were the case, any syringe that Allen used for his drug habits in the hospital could have spread his infection to an unsuspecting patient who came to the hospital to recover from a separate malady.

Allen Had Been Fired from Multiple Hospitals Already

The fact that Allen was allowed to work at the Swedish Medical Center is surprising, considering that he was fired from multiple hospitals in Colorado and Arizona in the past. Among these terminations, Allen was fired three times for replacing fentanyl syringes with saline syringes, or for stealing fentanyl syringes outright. With an employment history so riddled with signs of drug abuse, the fact that he was working with controlled substances on a regular basis and in such an important role inside an operating room while at the Swedish Medical Center is shocking.

Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys

Instances like this in Colorado are proof that no one is safe from the negligence of others, and can suffer serious harm as a result. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have established themselves in Baltimore and throughout Maryland as devoted attorneys who will fight for your interests both in and out of court. Contact us online or at (800) 529-6162.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.

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