Feds: Surgery tech accused of stealing drugs carries HIV

Federal prosecutors in Colorado say a hospital surgery technician accused of stealing painkiller syringes is a carrier of HIV.

The technician worked at three Western Washington medical facilities, according to the Washington Department of Health.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver released the information Wednesday about Rocky Allen as part of a plea for patients who may have been infected by him to be tested.

Key developments: 

  • Rocky Allen worked at Northwest Hospital in Seattle, Naval Hospital Bremerton, and the Lakewood Surgery Center in Pierce County. 
  • Allen worked at Northwest Hospital for a short time in early 2012, but was fired. 
  • He then worked at another hospital in Denver.
  • Health officials accused him of diverting and tampering with narcotics intended for patients in Colorado. 
  • State Health Department suspended Allen's credentials in February 

Authorities haven't previously described Allen's health status until Wednesday.

Court officials only referred to a "blood-borne pathogen" during a hearing in February when he pleaded not guilty to stealing medicine at Swedish Medical Center in suburban Denver.

There have been no reported cases of HIV among the approximately 2,500 people tested there.

KIRO 7 News received the following information regarding Northwest Hospital patients: 

We continue to believe the risk to our patients is extremely low. We regret that the actions of former employee Rocky Allen may have placed our patients at risk.  We are committed to doing all we can to support our patients and families throughout this process. Northwest Hospital & Medical Center has contacted the approximately 1,340 patients who had surgery at Northwest Hospital from December 30, 2011 to March 9, 2012 in an operating room where the technologist may have worked and asked them to be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. If there are patients who still have concerns, they are encouraged to call the Northwest Hospital hotline at (206) 368-1002 or toll free at 1-800-695-0654 to receive more information about how they may access free testing.

The case has also led to warnings to patients at other hospitals where he worked in Arizona, California and Washington to be tested.

Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle notified more than 1,300 patients in March that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

Though there was no evidence of any patient exposure, and the risk is thought to be very low; both Northwest Hospital and Lakewood Surgery Center have notified patients who had surgery during Allen’s employment and recommended that they be tested for blood-borne pathogens.

Here's what to know if you are concerned after visiting one of these establishments:

  • Northwest Hospital says the exposure risk is low, but they're testing affected patients just to be safe. The exposure period was from December 30, 2011 until March 9, 2012. Anyone who had surgery during the time period at the hospital are encouraged to call the Northwest Hospital hotline at 206-368-1002 or toll free at 1-800-695-0654 to receive more information about how they may access free testing.
  • Approximately 135 patients who had surgery at Lakewood Surgery Center between Oct. 27, 2011 and Dec. 1, 2011 are being notified of the potential for exposure. If you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to call 206-605-2601.
  •  Allen was a Navy Hospital Corpsman at the Bremerton Navy Hospital from 2008-2011. A spokesman says he was not involved in operating rooms during his time there and had no access to controlled substances. That is why Navy is not asking patients to be tested. If you still want to call the hospital, the hospital's number is 360-475-4232.