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Surgical tech may have exposed patients to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV in Washington

According to the Washington Department of Health, a surgical technician who is accused of tampering with narcotics in a way that could have exposed nearly 1500 patients to Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV worked at three Western Washington (state) medical facilities. Rocky Allen was arrested in Denver last month for diverting and tampering with medications, leaving patients at risk for contracting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

Rocky Allen worked at Northwest Hospital in Seattle, Naval Hospital Bremerton, and the Lakewood Surgery Center in Pierce County. He has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he took a syringe of Fentanyl and replaced it with another substance (likely saline). Prosecutors contest that Allen has a history of drug use, lying about it, and moving from hospital to hospital in order to steal drugs.

Before working in Washington State, Allen also worked in hospitals in California, Arizona, and Colorado. According to a Denver attorney, two former patients at Swedish Hospital in Denver have tested positive for blood borne pathogens, and there are reports of other positive tests. Allen has been fired from hospitals in all four states.

None of those cases have been linked specifically to Allen; in court, however, investigators said Allen is a drug addict and is infected with blood borne pathogens himself.

The exposure at Northwest Hospital was from 30 December 2011 until 9 March 2012. Allen also worked for twenty days in 2013 at Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego, California. He was then fired from HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix in October 2014 after he tested positive for Fentanyl while working as a surgical attendant. His most recent firing came on 22 January 2016 at Swedish Medical Center and arrested last month.

To date, approximately 3000 people who were treated at Swedish during the time Allen was employed there have been tested.

At Allen's preliminary hearing in Colorado last month, the judge agreed that Allen had a drug problem and his attorney argued that his drug problem could be attributed to time he spent in Afghanistan as a combat and medic and the subsequent PTSD that occurred as a result of his service. He is has surrendered his passport and is currently out on $25,000 bail. He has been ordered to a halfway house and drug counseling therapist.

Anyone who had surgery during this time period at the Northwest Hospital are encouraged to call its hotline at 206-368-1002, or toll free at 1-800-695-0654, to receive more information about how they may access free testing.

In addition, we urge you to call our office at 800-777-4081 to make sure your rights are protected. We have handled several similar cases of Hepatitis C exposure by serial infectors like David Kwiatkowski and Elet Neilson.

Source: KIRO 7, "Former tech who may have exposed patients to HIV, hepatitis worked at 3 W. Washington hospitals" 16 March 2016

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