Surgical tech accused of swapping syringes in Denver was fired f - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Surgical tech accused of swapping syringes in Denver was fired from Scripps

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/AP) – Hundreds of people are urged to get tested for HIV, after a possible exposure connected to surgeries performed at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla.

Scripps Health officials say a former surgical technician charged with swapping out drugs from syringes intended for patients at a Denver area hospital had been fired from Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla in 2013 over similar allegations.

Twenty-eight-year old Rocky Allen worked for Scripps as a surgical technician trainee at Scripps Green Hospital for 20 days between May 9 and June 7, 2013. In a news release, Scripps Health states Allen was fired after it was discovered that he had attempted to switch a syringe with fentanyl cirate with a syringe of saline.

RELATED: Surgical tech in mass HIV scare worked in San Diego

Scripps Health reports that at the time of Allen’s termination, the Drug Enforcement Agency was notified of the reason for his firing.

During their investigation, the hospital says they found no evidence that Allen’s actions harmed any patients. However, as a precaution, Scripps Health says they will be notifying the 518 patients who received surgical treatment at Scripps Green Hospital during the shifts that Allen worked. The notifications will begin going out to patients this week, offering them “free, confidential testing as a safety precaution.”

“We believe the risk of exposure to illness is extremely low,” said Dr. Maida Soghikian, chief of staff for Scripps Green Hospital. “Patient safety is our highest priority and of paramount concern. We believe the right thing for our patients is to offer testing in order to allay any anxiety. We regret that this terminated employee would cause this level of concern for our patients."

Allen pleaded not guilty last Friday to federal charges of stealing painkillers intended for patients at Swedish Medical Center in the Denver suburb of Englewood. Prosecutors say Allen took syringes filled with painkillers and replaced them with some other substance. That other substance has not yet been disclosed.

Swedish Medical Center has asked about 2,900 patients who underwent surgical treatment while Allen worked there to be tested for hepatitis and HIV. John C. Lincoln Medical Center in Phoenix, where Allen previously worked, is also offering testing to patients.

Denver attorney James Avery says two of his clients who had procedures at Swedish tested positive for Hepatitis B. Both are awaiting follow-up tests.

A federal judge has set bail at $25,000 for Allen and also ordered him to get drug treatment. 

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