Washington Hospitals Urge HIV, Hepatitis Tests for 1,500 After Needle Swaps

March 16, 2016 Updated: March 16, 2016

More than 1,500 patients from two Washington State hospitals are being told to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis, after a former surgery technician was charged with stealing and swapping needles on the job in a Denver hospital.

The technician, Rocky Allen, 28, had worked at the Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle for a short time in 2012, but was ultimately fired. He also worked at Lakewood Surgery Center and another as-of-yet unnamed facility.

Despite Rocky Allen’s well-documented drug addiction and … suspicious employment history, Defendants hired him as a surgical technician.

Health authorities informed the hospitals that Allen was arrested in Colorado for allegedly stealing syringes of the painkiller fentanyl from an operating room and replacing them with needles containing other substances, when he worked at the Swedish Medical Center in Denver from August 2015 to January 2016. 

Allen’s case is also the subject of a lawsuit. On March 8, a lawsuit naming three plaintiffs was filed against the Swedish Medical Center for negligence in hiring Allen. Lawyers are currently seeking class-action status for the case.

As the Denver Post reports, the suit claims that the Medical Center should never have hired Allen, who was previously fired by four other medical facilities and was also court-martialed back in 2011 for stealing fentanyl while serving in Afghanistan. 

“Despite Rocky Allen’s well-documented drug addiction and erratic and facially suspicious employment history, Defendants hired him as a surgical technician,” reads the lawsuit.

According to KIRO 7, a Denver attorney says there are reports that at least two former patients at the Swedish Medical Center in Denver have tested positive for blood-borne pathogens.

Allen’s attorney has said Allen suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and he started using drugs after witnessing horrors in Afghanistan.

Court documents show that Allen also worked in San Diego and the Naval hospital in Bremerton.

Associated Press contributed to this report.