Swedish patient remembers former surgical tech giving pain medication

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DENVER -- Another patient came forward Wednesday and said she saw former surgical technician Rocky Allen in her surgery room at Swedish Medical Center. She said she remembers when he gave her pain medication.

According to the patient's attorney, shortly after the hospital found out Allen might have been stealing narcotics, the health department ordered he be tested.

Once the health department received the results from Allen's test, that's when the hospital ordered nearly 3,000 surgery patients get tested for HIV and hepatitis.

Margaret Wegrzyn said her nightmare started on Nov. 30 with gallbladder surgery at Swedish Medical Center.

"I said, 'Boy this guy, the surgical tech, is so nice because he came in and gave me something before I left and they never did that for any of my other surgeries there," she said.

Wegrzyn said she remembered Allen not only because he was nice, but also because she said he came back three times to administer narcotics to ease her pain, but nothing happened.

"I said 'What did you give me? It's not working.' He said 'I'll take care of you,'" Wegrzyn said.

Two months later, she heard the news that Allen was accused of changing syringes and putting thousands of patients at risk for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

"There was a picture of him and I said, 'Honey, that's the surgical tech who did my surgery.' That's when I freaked out," she said.

She then realized why her pain medications never worked. She believes Allen was using the narcotics on himself and then injecting her with something else. The mother and grandmother is worried.

"When they said HIV and hepatitis C I said, 'I don't want to die.' And I hated him because why would he do that?" Wegrzyn said.

Her attorney, James Avery, said Wegrzyn's story proves Swedish Medical Center didn't follow protocol.

"The difference in this case is that the licensed technologist was administering narcotics, which is against the statute," Avery said.

"At no point is a surgical tech allowed to administer narcotics to patients at Swedish Medical Center. This is not part of their roles or responsibilities," Swedish Medical Center said in a statement.

"The Health Department and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] tell us that in cases of diversion involving injectable drugs, patients are at increased risk for blood borne infections including hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, for which we are testing. In abundance of caution, we are following these testing recommendations."

Wegrzyn will know more in about two weeks. Until then, all she can do is wait and worry.

"It's going to be hard. I've got other health issues and now I have this," she said.

Allen is in federal custody in Denver. His next court appearance is Friday morning.

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