Officials with Scripps Health are notifying more than 500 patients about a former surgical technician who was arrested in Colorado and faces charges of switching patient medication.
Rocky Allen, 28, is in custody facing a charge of tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by deceit.
Prosecutors claim Allen took syringes filled with painkillers at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado and replaced them with some other substance, according to KOAA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs.
Swedish fired Allen in late January, KUSA-TV in Denver reports. He had started work in mid-August of 2015.
Allen was employed as a surgical technician trainee at Scripps Green Hospital for less than a month in 2013.
“He was immediately placed on investigatory leave and then terminated when Scripps determined he was trying to switch a syringe of fentanyl citrate – a pain medication – with a syringe of saline,” the hospital said in a written release Monday.
Allen was terminated and the hospital reported the incident to the Drug Enforcement Agency, according to the news release.
Hospital officials plan a 10:30 a.m. briefing to discuss notifications they are sending to 518 patients who had surgical procedures at Scripps Green Hospital between May 9 and June 7, 2013, during the shifts that Allen worked.
While hospital officials say their investigation found no evidence any Scripps patients were harmed, they are offering free, confidential testing as safety precaution.
“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,” Dr. Maida Soghikian, chief of staff for Scripps Green Hospital.
Two other hospitals – one in Englewood, Colorado and another in Phoenix, Arizona – associated with Allen are asking patients to undergo testing for hepatitis and HIV.
A Denver judge ordered that Allen enter a drug treatment program and be held on $25,000 bail.
A defense attorney said Friday Allen is a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Patients of Scripps Green with questions about the testing process can call 1-800-SCRIPPS or speak to their physician.