Patients of Swedish Medical Center
HealthONE Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado has notified roughly 2,900 patients that one of its surgical technicians, Rocky Allen, was swapping dirty needles for new ones and replacing syringes filled with the pain-killer fentanyl with syringes filled with saline solution. As a result, these roughly 2,900 patients may have been exposed to HIV and Hepatitis. Our firm represents patients of Swedish Medical Center to pursue their rights to compensation. Unlike the class action that has also been filed, our firm is representing individual patients on a contingent fee basis who have claims to substantial damages.
Our firm, with experience in mass actions such as this one, has teamed up with Colorado trial lawyer Jim Avery to represent affected patients. If you would like to join in the group of patients we represent, click HERE or call 1-855-984-8100.
This case isn’t just about diverted drugs by a former employee (with known ‘blood borne pathogens’) as claimed by Swedish CEO, it’s about dirty (contaminated) needles in the Operating Room for five months that were possibly used on thousands of patients in a terrible lapse of security. In a violation of state and federal law, drugs including Intravenous Fentanyl were reportedly left unsecured in vacant operating rooms accessible by unlicensed staff such as Rocky Allen (where the theft occurred). Rocky Allen has been reported to have tested positive for “blood borne pathogens” (likely HIV, Hep-B or Hep-C) by federal authorities. Patients have reported excruciating and inexplicable pain in the PACU (recovery), and this should have been reported by anesthesiologists and PACU nurses, a red flag to Swedish. While the press is reporting the lack of a federal database or other method of tracking known offenders, Swedish was well aware of the lack of licensing requirements or an offender database at the time it hired Allen. Further, Allen was dishonorably discharged from the Navy, a training ground for Allen and part of his employment history that was disclosed to Swedish; however, Swedish either didn’t inquire or chose to hire Allen in spite of that negative history. Drug security is a big issue in hospitals, and one for which Swedish Hospital is accountable. Swedish Hospital is leaving most questions about how this happened and how serious is the risk, unanswered.
The time period of Rocky Allen’s employment at Swedish Hospital was August 15, 2015 to January 22, 2016, so patients undergoing surgery during that time are subject to the warning to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Allen was tested after being caught removing a syringe of fentanyl from an anesthesia drug tray, and found to have fentanyl and marijuana in his system. Obviously the incident where he was caught removing the needle is not the reason he had fentanyl in his system, he must have been doing this previously.
Here is a copy of the Health Warning letter issued to patients by Swedish Medical Center on 2/1/16: Swedish Patient Warning Letter
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
First, everyone should get tested, either at LabCorp (payment pre-arranged by HealthONE and battery of tests selected by Health Department in conjunction with CDC and Swedish Infectious Disease consultant) or any community health clinic. The Swedish/DOH test battery ordered at LabCorp is likely more extensive than what you can get at Denver or Jefferson County Public Health, or Tri-County Public Health clinics, who can perform basic HIV testing for about $30. If you use your own doctor or clinic for testing, you can request reimbursement from Swedish Hospital. Your local health department clinic will likely give you quicker results but they might not be complete. Here is a link to the page to locate testing facility near you: HIV Test Facilities.
LabCorp will report your results to Swedish Hospital. The Swedish Hospital protocol will be to contact you via a customer service nurse if your results are negative, but if positive, you should be contacted by an Infectious Disease doctor or nurse who can answer questions about the test results.
Second, everyone should contact a lawyer, whether it be our firm, Jim Avery, or another lawyer. Depending on the outcome of the tests, patients are left with at least one of three outcomes: (1) they suffered extraordinary anxiety awaiting a negative test result, but were still instructed to get re-tested; (2) they suffered extraordinary anxiety awaiting a positive test result and now suffer from a diagnosis of HIV and/or hepatitis; and/or (3) they received saline rather than pain medication in connection with their surgery and suffered extraordinary pain and suffering as a result of not receiving pain medication. Under any of these outcomes, patients have claims to substantial damages.
For additional news coverage of these events, see: