Patients sue Swedish, other hospitals in alleged drug switching scandal

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DENVER -- The first lawsuit in the Swedish Medical Center drug contamination scandal was filed in early March.

But it only represented three patients and only targeted Swedish Medical Center, the only hospital to call police after firing surgical technician Rocky Allen.

On Friday, a lawsuit was filed that not only targets Swedish, but two hospitals in Arizona and one in California. All of the plaintiffs claim there was a failure to stop a known drug abuser from getting rehired.

Patrick Evans, 56, will use a wheelchair for months after recovering from stroke surgery at Swedish, but he said he fears it might paralyze him even longer.

“This is outrageous what happened, it really is,” he said.

He’s one of the estimated 2,900 Swedish patients being tested for HIV and hepatitis after the hospital fired Allen.

The 28 year-old has a bloodborne pathogen and is accused of diverting surgical needles filled with fentanyl for his own use.

However, it’s the behavior of five hospitals that fired Allen for drug-related reasons that really bothers Evans.

“They all need to be accountable for their actions and their actions were very similar ... just sweep it under the rug, don’t tell anybody, let it go,” Evans said.

Swedish did call police, but two hospitals in Arizona did not and that’s the same for a hospital in Washington and the one in California.

The hospital in California only sent a one-page form to the Drug Enforcement Administration that didn’t include Allen’s name, according to the class-action lawsuit.

The statement reads: “The reckless actions and conduct of Rocky Allen was foreseeable based on the fact that he was court martialed in 2011 for stealing the same drugs while deployed with an army unit in Afghanistan.”

“A simple background check would’ve revealed the court martial and that definitely should have been a red flag and they can say they did background checks. I want to see the paperwork," Evans said.

While the lawsuits don’t specify if anyone tested positive for HIV or hepatitis, Evans said every patient tested feels a level of stress that should never have occurred.

“Hey, you tested negative, you’re fine. Why sue? I still have to have a blood test in another six months. I still have to have another blood test in a year. Viruses such as these don’t always show up instantaneously," he said.

After Swedish began testing patients who came into contact with Allen, six other hospitals have decided to offer free testing to their patients as well.

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