How was fired surgical tech hired in Colorado?

Posted at 5:39 PM, Feb 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-15 23:42:12-05

A surgical technologist accused of stealing powerful drugs and putting thousands of Colorado patients at risk was fired from an Arizona hospital two years ago for testing positive for a controlled substance.

John C. Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Phoenix told Denver7 that Rocky Allen, 28, worked there as a surgical tech from July 28 to Sept. 26, 2014.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the hospital said Allen "was terminated for violation of workplace policy when he tested positive for use of a controlled substance."

Denver7 wanted to know how Allen was able to leave Arizona and get the same job at Swedish Medical Center in Colorado a little over a year later.

Turns out, it comes back to state regulations or lack of them.

Arizona is one of 39 states that does not regulate surgical technologists or keep any disciplinary records.

Colorado and ten other states do regulate surgical technologists, but Colorado and Washington are the only states that require them to register with Colorado.

While Colorado does have stricter laws than most states, we still rely on somewhat of an honor system for employees to self-report discipline from past employers. Something it sounds like Allen may not have done when filing his paperwork with the state.

Swedish Medical Center fired Allen in January after investigators say he swapped out a medical syringe of Fentanyl and replaced it with another labeled syringe.

As a result, Swedish has asked 2,900 people who underwent surgery there between Aug. 17 and Jan. 22 to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV.

Two Arizona hospitals, including John C. Lincoln Memorial, are also offering free blood testing to 97 patients who may have been impacted while Allen worked there.

A spokesperson at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona, confirms Allen worked there in 2014 as well, but won't say why he left.

Denver7 asked Swedish Medical Center about its background check policies when it comes to employees. A spokeswoman was unable to answers our questions citing the ongoing investigation.

It is also not clear if Allen was ever charged for testing positive for a controlled substance in Arizona.


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