June 02, 2016
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Colorado technician who tampered with patient syringes tests positive for HIV

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A former surgical technologist at the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, who was indicted in February with diverting patients’ medications by swapping syringes, has tested positive for HIV, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Colorado.

A federal grand jury charged Rocky Allen for removing syringes that contained fentanyl citrate and replacing them with similar syringes containing a different substance. Due to his actions, 3,000 patients who underwent surgeries at the facility from Aug. 17, 2015 to Jan. 22 were potentially exposed to HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses.

Larry Wolk

Larry Wolk

Officials from the center notified the patients of the potential exposure and urged them to undergo complimentary testing for the viruses. To date, there is no evidence of disease transmission from Allen to a patient or from patient to patient, according to Larry Wolk, MD, MSPH, chief medical officer and executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. However, about 1,000 patients have not completed the testing process.

“The absence of such evidence is not proof that no disease transmission occurred, because not all notified patients chose to be tested,” Wolk said in a statement.

On June 1, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Colorado announced that Allen tested positive for HIV subtype B, but was negative for hepatitis B and C. The attorney’s office and Swedish Medical Center officials are encouraging potentially affected patients to complete the free medical testing.

“We deeply regret that one of our former employees may have put patients at risk, and are sorry for any uncertainty or anxiety this may cause,” Richard A. Hammett, MBA, MHA, president and CEO of the Swedish Medical Center, said in a press release. “Please know our first concern is the health, care, safety and privacy of our patients, and we are working diligently to look after the well-being of the patients who may have been affected by the wrongful actions of this individual.”

Disclosure: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.