DENVER — A surgical technician whose drug-theft charges have prompted thousands of patients to get tested for three contagious diseases is HIV positive, federal officials said Wednesday.
Rocky Allen, 28, tested negative for hepatitis B and C, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office here. So far health officials, who have tested about 2,500 people at Swedish Medical Center in the Denver suburb of Englewood since Allen was indicted in February, have not seen any cases of HIV or other blood diseases tied to him.
“We have made multiple attempts to reach every patient,” said Nicole Williams of Swedish Medical Center. “Our actions have been out of an abundance of caution for our public and we do hope everyone will get tested.”
About 500 patients initially contacted have not come in for testing. Another 500 have not followed up on additional testing that has been recommended.
Allen is accused of stealing a syringe of fentanyl, a highly addictive narcotic, and replacing it Jan. 22 with a syringe that had none of the painkiller. He has pleaded not guilty and been released on $25,000 bond to a halfway house.
Investigators believe that Allen may have switched needles he used to inject the drug with needles used in operating rooms on patients. He also has worked at at least four additional hospitals where other patients have been warned to be tested:
- Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Ariz.
- John C. Lincoln Medical Center in Phoenix
- Scripps Green in La Jolla, Calif.
- Northwest Hospital in Seattle
“We have no evidence of transmission of any infection as a result of the criminal actions of Rocky Allen,” Williams said. “We encourage every patient who learned about having hepatitis through this testing to follow up with his or her doctor about treatment options.”
At Swedish Medical Center, improved drug-tracking procedures have been put in place to ensure that others won’t steal drugs, said Dr. Larry Wolk, the chief medical officer and executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.