Former surgical tech at hospital in Denver area tests positive for HIV, may have exposed patients

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DENVER -- An attorney who is suing a Denver-area hospital where a surgery technician is accused of stealing syringes filled with painkillers says he's frustrated it took so long to find out the former employee is HIV-positive.

Attorney Richard McCune says he learned from a news story Wednesday, June 1st that the former technician, Rocky Allen, carries the virus.

Results of a blood test were released by the U.S. Attorney's Office with Allen's consent.

According to KDVR, results of the blood test show Allen carries HIV (subtype B) and that he is negative for Hepatitis B and C.

McCune says he lacks confidence in Swedish Medical Center to provide information or handle the case objectively.

Federal prosecutors have urged patients who may have come in contact with Allen to get tested.

Court officials only referred to a "blood-borne pathogen" during a hearing in February when Allen denied stealing a syringe of painkillers and replacing it with one containing another substance. Allen has pleaded not guilty to federal charges and is awaiting trial.

According to KDVR,  Allen worked at Swedish Medical Center between August 2015 and January 2016 is accused of diverting the painkiller fentanyl from the facility.

Allen, who was arrested and charged in February after being indicted by a federal grand jury, is charged with one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count obtaining a controlled substance by deceit.

He could be sentenced up to 14 years in prison and fined up to $500,000 if convicted on both counts.

In a statement Wednesday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said it had completed its investigation into Allen's conduct at Swedish Medical Center and found deficiencies in pharmacy services, including drug auditing procedures, infection control and surgical services. The department says tracking controlled drugs was addressed in a hospital plan to address the problems.

Hospital spokeswoman Nicole Williams says Swedish would have no comment on its drug control practices while the legal case against Allen is pending.

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

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