A Denver area hospital—and the background check company the hospital trusted to vet a former surgical technician—is facing lawsuits and criticism for failing to catch the technician’s history of addiction and drug thefts. Per a report from CBS Denver, the technician, Rocky Allen, is currently serving a federal prison sentence for stealing and using syringes of the painkiller fentanyl that were meant for patients. The report notes that Allen was previously court-martialed by the Navy for the same offense.
Per a Denver Post article from last November when Allen was sentenced to six and a half years in prison, the technician served as a deployed corpsman in the United States Navy. It was during his time in the Navy, deployed in Afghanistan, that Allen developed the post-traumatic stress disorder that reports claim ultimately led to his drug addiction. He was discharged from the Navy due to his PTSD, coverage explains.
Allen stole fentanyl while in the Navy and was court-martialed for the offense, reports indicate. This information is in the public record and can be found online. Neither Swedish Medical Center, the Denver hospital where Allen worked, nor the background screening firm the hospital hired to vet Allen found this information during his pre-employment screening. The Navy court-martial would have been a major red flag for a surgical technician, reports claim, as surgical techs often prepare doses of fentanyl and other powerful painkillers for patients.
Currently, 90 patients are suing Swedish Medical Center regarding Allen’s crimes. By stealing fentanyl syringes while on the job, Allen allowed several patients to go without prescribed painkiller doses. Other patients were injected with syringe needles that Allen had already used on himself—a huge health concern, coverage explains, especially since Allen is an HIV carrier. So far, reports have not clarified whether any of Swedish Medical Center’s patients contracted the virus.
One of the attorneys bringing the lawsuits against Swedish Medical Center told CBS Denver that a more thorough screening of Allen’s drug history might have prevented the entire situation. The lawyer argued that if the hospital or the background check company had found and reviewed the details of Allen’s court-martial, he never would have been hired to do a job that gave him access to fentanyl. In turn, if Allen hadn’t been hired, he wouldn’t have put patients at risk by exposing them to HIV. The HIV exposure is the reason behind most of the lawsuits, coverage explains.