Rocky Allen, Accused Needle-Swapping Surgical Tech, Is HIV+, Patients Freaked
A Facebook photo of Rocky Allen. Additional images, a video and more below.
Earlier this year, we introduced you to surgical tech Rocky Allen, who was accused of swapping needles to inject the high-powered painkiller fentanyl — a situation that led to a recommendation that nearly 3,000 patients be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV.
Most of those patients complied, but approximately 500 have not done so thus far — and getting them to take part has just become even more important.
Why? The U.S. Attorney's Office has just announced that Allen has tested positive for HIV.
Meanwhile, a mass-tort-action case against HCA-Healthone, the owner of Swedish Medical Center, which employed Allen, maintains that the hospital failed to properly check his records before hiring him — because he was court-martialed from the Army for stealing fentanyl.
As we've reported, Allen celebrated his gig at Swedish in an August 2015 post on his now-deleted Facebook page.
"So it's official, I start my new job at Swedish Medical on Monday!" he wrote. "Super excited to be back in the OR and fixing some people!"
Investigators believe he did more than that.
On January 22, Allen allegedly swapped out the label of a syringe loaded with fentanyl. Afterward, he's said to have tested positive for fentanyl (as well as marijuana), leading to the supposition that he's an intravenous drug user.
Swedish Medical Center.
A week later, Allen's license as a surgical tech was suspended.
In the days after Allen's alleged fentanyl gambit was discovered, Swedish officials scrambled to determine how many patients may have undergone surgical procedures at which Allen was present between August and January.
The estimate: approximately 2,900 people.
The letter reaching out to them is dated February 1 and signed by Richard A. Hammet, the president and CEO of Swedish.
One passage reads:
At Swedish Medical Center, we take to heart every day our mission, “Above All Else, We Are Committed to the Care and Improvement of Human Life.” Swedish employees, nurses and physicians work very hard to ensure the safest, quality patient experience.
We deeply regret that one of our former employees may have put patients at risk, and are sorry for any uncertainty or anxiety this may cause. Please know our first concern is your health, and the care, safety and privacy of our patients.
Most of the patients in question were tested, and to date, no cases of hepatitis or HIV linked to Allen have surfaced. However, the U.S. Attorney's Office notes that "approximately 500 of those initially tested did not participate in recommended follow-up testing" — and their non-compliance is concerning, given Allen's HIV-positive status, which he consented to make public.
Another Facebook photo of Rocky Allen.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and Swedish jointly encourage potentially affected patients to be tested — something that's being done without charge. The number to call is 303-788-4646.
The latest developments could provide even more fodder for the aforementioned mass tort action against Swedish's parent company. (Update: A class-action lawsuit in the matter was dismissed on May 4.)
Nonetheless, the local document, filed in March, contains a particularly interesting passage in regard to Allen's alleged fentanyl use and his hiring at Swedish. It reads in part:
The reckless actions and conduct of Rocky Allen were foreseeable based on the fact that he was court-martialed in 2011 for stealing the same drugs while deployed with an Army unit in Afghanistan. During that court-martial, Rocky Allen pleaded guilty to making a false official statement, wrongfully possessing about 30 vials of fentanyl, wrongly possessing a syringe containing fentanyl, stealing fentanyl and stealing a syringe containing fentanyl.
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