The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said Scripps Green Hospital notified them about a drug theft in 2013 but left out an important detail: who had tried to steal the drugs.
According to the DEA, managers at Scripps told investigators that $5 worth of the painkiller fentanyl had been stolen, but they did not say that the alleged thief was one of their surgical technician trainees, Rocky Allen.
“In the Scripps filing, Scripps Green did not provide DEA with the employee’s name, indicate they knew who was responsible for the theft, or notify the police of the theft,” the DEA wrote Wednesday.
Had hospital officials been more transparent, the DEA said it may have been able to investigate and possibly prevent the same thing from happening at two other hospitals.
Allen, 28, was arrested in Colorado on charges of tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado. Prosecutors say Allen took syringes filled with painkillers at Swedish Medical Center and replaced them with another substance.
He was a surgical technician trainee at Scripps Green for less than a month in 2013, and during that time, he was accused of swapping syringes of fentanyl with saline solution.
Scripps Green’s spokesperson released the following statement in response to the DEA’s information:
“Scripps completed the Report of Theft of Loss of Controlled Substances form and submitted to the DEA the day of the incident. We believed taking that action and terminating Mr. Allen were the appropriate steps to protect our patients. At the time, we had no reason to believe this was anything other than an isolated incident.”
Now, the local hospital is notifying 518 patients who had surgical procedures there between May 9 and June 7, 2013, during the shifts Allen worked.
Hospital officials said they are testing for HIV and hepatitis, and they are offering free confidential testing as a safety precaution.
Swedish Medical Center is asking patients to undergo testing for hepatitis and HIV, as is another hospital where Allen worked in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Scripps Green spokesperson said the hospital had no reason to believe Allen was carrying any blood-borne diseases when he briefly worked there in 2013. The patient tests are out of an abundance of caution, she said.
A Denver judge ordered that Allen enter a drug treatment program and be held on $25,000 bail.
On Friday, a defense attorney said Allen is a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.