Denver trial attorney and Superlawyer Jim Avery, with 34 years experience in hospital liability cases, with mass tort lawyers Paul McInnes (Kansas City) has filed suit on behalf of patients exposed by former surgical tech Rocky Allen to HIV and Hepatitis against Swedish Medical Center (Englewood, CO), UW Northwest Hospital, (Seattle, WA) Scripps Green Hospital (La Jolla, CA), Honorhealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center (Phoenix, AZ) and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center (Glendale, AZ). In addition, Avery represents scores of patients exposed at HealthOne Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, where the indictment of Allen occurred and the case began. Avery recently discovered that Swedish outsourced the background check of Rocky Allen to a Texas company named Precheck. Precheck failed to discover Allen’s court martial or prior discharges from the numerous other hospitals where he worked.
Swedish Medical Center, Northwest Hospital, Green Hospital, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center (“Thunderbird”) and HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center (“Lincoln”) have notified thousands of patients that one of their surgical technicians, Rocky Allen, was swapping dirty needles for new ones and replacing syringes filled with the pain-killer fentanyl with syringes filled with saline solution. As a result, these patients may have been exposed to HIV and Hepatitis. Our firm represents patients notified of the risk by the Hospitals,and who have been tested (regardless of results) to pursue their rights to compensation. Unlike class actions that are sometimes filed, our firm is representing individual patients on a contingent fee basis who have claims to substantial damages.
Our firm, with experience in mass actions such as this one, has teamed up with trial lawyer Jim Avery to represent affected patients. If you would like to join in the group of patients we represent, just complete the contact form at the bottom of this page or the side margin, or call Jim Avery at 866-987-4368.
This case isn’t just about diverted drugs by a former employee (with known “blood borne pathogens”), it’s about unprecedented failure to conduct a routine background check of an employee who will have access to narcotics and the ability to expose vulnerable patients via dirty (contaminated) needles in the Operating Room for months that were possibly used on thousands of patients in a terrible lapse of security. Thunderbird and Lincoln were grossly negligent in hiring, retaining and supervising Rocky Allen. In a violation of state and federal law, drugs including Intravenous Fentanyl were reportedly left unsecured in vacant operating rooms accessible by unlicensed staff such as Allen (where the theft occurred). Allen has been reported to have tested positive for “blood borne pathogens” (likely HIV, Hep-B or Hep-C) by federal authorities. Patients have reported excruciating and inexplicable pain in the PACU (recovery), and this should have been reported by anesthesiologists and PACU nurses, a red flag to the hospitals. While the press is reporting the lack of a federal database or other method of tracking known offenders, Thunderbird and Lincoln were well aware of the lack of licensing requirements or an offender database at the time it hired Allen. Further, Allen was dishonorably discharged from the Navy, a training ground for Allen and part of his employment history that was disclosed to the hospitals; however, they either didn’t inquire or chose to hire Allen in spite of that negative history. Drug security is a big issue in hospitals, and one for which Thunderbird and Lincoln are accountable.
The time period of Rocky Allen’s employment at Thunderbird was May 19 to July 2, 2014 and at Lincoln from July to September 2014, so patients undergoing surgery during that time are subject to the warning to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Allen has admitted testing positive for HIV. The details of his employment history at the various hospitals is set out in the US Gov’t Proffer of Evidence filed in the criminal case.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
First, everyone should get tested, either at centers designated by Swedish, Northwest, Green, Thunderbird or Lincoln, which are providing free HIV and hepatitis testing, or any community health clinic. The hospital tests are likely more extensive than what you can get at public clinics that can perform basic HIV testing, but are more reliable than the “quick HIV” test that most clinics offer. You can also use your own doctor or clinic for testing. Your local health department clinic will likely give you quicker results but they might not be complete.
Second, everyone should contact a lawyer, whether it be our firm, Jim Avery, or another lawyer. Depending on the outcome of the tests, patients are left with at least one of three outcomes: (1) they suffered extraordinary anxiety awaiting a negative test result, but were still instructed to get re-tested; (2) they suffered extraordinary anxiety awaiting a positive test result and now suffer from a diagnosis of HIV and/or hepatitis; and/or (3) they received saline rather than pain medication in connection with their surgery and suffered extraordinary pain and suffering as a result of not receiving pain medication. Under any of these outcomes, patients have claims to substantial damages.