3K Need HIV Tests in Surgery Tech's Drug-Stealing Case

Rocky Allen, accused of swapping syringes at Colorado hospital, tested positive for virus
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2016 11:53 AM CDT
3K Need HIV Tests in Surgery Tech's Drug-Stealing Case
Former patients are scared.   (Shutterstock)

Another bombshell Wednesday about an ex-surgical tech at a Colorado hospital who allegedly stole liquid painkillers by swapping syringes, per federal prosecutors: He has HIV, putting thousands of former patients at risk, the Denver Post reports. Rocky Allen, 28, accused of stealing fentanyl citrate in January from Swedish Medical Center and switching the fentanyl-filled syringe with others, was indicted by a federal grand jury in February, and up to 3,000 patients have been offered free testing for HIV and two forms of hepatitis, CBS Denver reports. "Everyone is scared as hell," James Avery, a lawyer representing ex-patients at hospitals in four states where Allen had worked, tells the Post. A statement Wednesday from Colorado's health department said 1,000 or so of the possibly affected patients hadn't completed testing, but it said there was no evidence so far of disease transmission. Avery, however, tells CBS two of his clients have tested positive for hepatitis B (Allen tested negative for hepatitis B and C).

Allen had a spotty record before Swedish: He'd reportedly been fired from four other hospitals and court-martialed in 2011 for swiping fentanyl while in the Navy (his public defender tells the New York Daily News Allen suffers from PTSD and started using drugs in Afghanistan). "How could these people not know that he was a problem?" the dad of a former teen patient tells CBS. The hospital itself was found in April by state health officials to have been lacking in its drug auditing procedures. Hospitals where Allen previously worked in Arizona, California, and Washington are also offering testing to patients. Allen has pleaded not guilty to charges including tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by deceit; if convicted after the trial CNN says is set for August, he may see up to 14 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. (This hospice owner allegedly wanted nurses to make patients to "go bye-bye.")

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