ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– A doctor at Swedish Medical Center told CBS4 that a surgical technician was caught swiping a needle filled with fentanyl in the operating room at the beginning of a surgical procedure.
Rocky Allen was terminated from his position at Swedish after the incident on Jan. 22.
In a letter to patients, Swedish Medical Center confirmed that Allen may have put surgical patients at risk for exposure to HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
A spokesman for the doctors says Allen was captured stealing pain medications.
“A staff member witnessed a drug diversion by a surgical tech in the operating room on Jan. 22,” said Dr. Matthew Fleishman.
Fleishman said protocol was followed following that incident, “Which includes first and foremost they were protecting the patient to prevent harm. They removed the suspected employee immediately from any patient care.”
Allen reportedly swiped a fentanyl-labeled syringe from an anesthesia work space.
The news of the incident saddened attorney Hollynd Hoskins. Hoskins represented more than a dozen clients who became infected when Kristen Parker, a former Rose Medical Center employee, stole fentanyl while at the hospital.
Parker was convicted and more than 30 patients were infected with Hepatitis C. Since the Swedish Medical Center news was released, Hoskins’ office has received at least 100 calls and emails from nervous patients who were treated at Swedish Medical Center.
“They are filled with anxiety and fear and after representing 15 patients who went through this at Rose Medical Center, who were infected with Hepatitis C, I’ve also spoken to them and their hearts go out to patients at Swedish Medical Center,” said Hoskins.
“We know this is sensitive, it’s emotional, that it creates anxiety,” said Fleishman.
One patient, an infant, had her blood tested but those results have not come back. Swedish Medical Center has contacted nearly 3,000 patients potentially at risk, of those more than 210 have had their blood tested already.
Only patients who had surgery at Swedish Medical Center between Aug. 17, 2015 and Jan. 22 in an operating room have been asked to be tested.
Those who had surgery between those dates and want to confirm whether they are included in the testing group can call (303) 728-7140.