Surgical patients at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, may have contracted bloodborne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis while at the hospital, according to a lawsuit filed by three former SMC patients.
The three former patients were found to be at risk when a drug-addicted, former surgical technician was caught swapping out syringes filled with the painkiller fentanyl with syringes filled with unknown substances. According to SMC, nearly 3,000 former patients were affected as a result of the former employee’s actions.
If you were a surgical patient at the Swedish Medical Center between August 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016 please fill out our free, no obligation case evaluation form to find out if you are eligible to join the lawsuit.
Patients at Risk
Although tests for the three plaintiffs came back negative for any bloodborne pathogens, they filed the lawsuit because of the emotional distress the entire affair has caused them. A former SMC patient at risk told a local news outlet that testing negative initially doesn’t mean he’s in the clear.
“Hey, you tested negative, you’re fine. Why sue? I still have to have a blood test in another six months. I still have to have another blood test in a year. Viruses such as these don’t always show up instantaneously,” former SMC patient Patrick Evans said.
However, others among the nearly 3,000 former patients who were affected were not as lucky, and now must deal with life-altering blood diseases.
A Drug Addict at Work
Rocky Allen was caught stealing a surgical syringe in January, and was promptly reported to local authorities. Shortly after, Allen was indicted by a federal grand jury where testimony disclosed that he was a carrier of unspecified bloodborne pathogens.
In response, SMC sent out a notification to all of the hospital’s former patients who could have been affected by Allen’s criminal activity, encouraging them to get tested.
SMC was not the only hospital to encourage former patients to get tested. Allen had worked at several hospitals in Washington state, Arizona, California, and the U.S. Navy, where he displayed similar behavior and had been terminated as a result.
Was SMC Negligent?
The lawsuit contends that SMC was negligent in hiring Allen, and should be held responsible for potentially infecting former patients with HIV or hepatitis.
The hospital rejected this notion, claiming in a statement that its “staff reacted swiftly and appropriately to report this incident to multiple authorities and to notify patients as no one had previously.”
Allen had been moving from state to state in an effort to conceal his turbulent employment history, and was aided by a nonexistent federal employment database. All the hospitals he worked at fired him for drug-related reasons. Even Allen’s time in the Navy ended because of drugs, when he pleaded guilty to a court martial that accused him of stealing fentanyl.
The hospitals that previously hired Allen never reported him to the police, allowing him to put more patients at risk.
The negligence at all of the hospitals that employed Allen goes well beyond improperly vetting him for a job, and extends to improper supervision while Allen was at work, as well as failing to secure medications at the hospital.
If you were a patient at the Swedish Medical Center between August 17, 2015, and January 22, 2016, and would like to hold SMC accountable for their negligence, please fill out our free, no obligation case evaluation form to find out if you are eligible to join the class action lawsuit.