Swedish Medical Center Faces Negligence Class Action Over Risk for Hepatitis, HIV

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Santa Clara, CA: The Swedish Medical Center, in Denver, is facing a class action lawsuit alleging negligence regarding the hiring of an employee who, the three named plaintiffs Angelica Porras, Catherine Pecha and Gary Wolter, claim exposed themselves and other patients at the centre to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims the hospital negligently hired Rocky Allen, who has been indicted on two federal counts alleging he was caught stealing a syringe filled with fentanyl from an operating room. According to court documents, by the time the hospital hired Allen, he had been fired from four other hospitals. Further, he was court-martialed in 2011, when he was serving with the Navy in Afghanistan, for the theft of fentanyl. Court testimony revealed that he is carrying an undisclosed bloodborne pathogen.

"By the time Allen appeared on the doorstep of SMC in August 2015 looking for a job as a surgical technician, all the warning signs of what would later occur at SMC were present," the lawsuit states. "Allen already had been terminated by numerous other hospitals for the exact conduct that has now exposed thousands of SMC patients at an increased risk of bloodborne pathogens."

According to the complaint, despite having received negative test results for the three viruses, the three named plaintiffs were told that they remain at risk and should pursue continued blood testing.

The lawsuit claims the hospital negligently inflicted emotional distress and failed to properly supervise Allen after hiring him. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for anyone who had surgery at Swedish between August 17 and January 22. The hospital has offered free blood tests to 2,900 patients.

The named defendants are Swedish and its parent companies, Hospital Corp. of America and HealthONE of Denver Inc. The lawsuit also notes that another HealthONE hospital, Rose Medical Center, has experienced a drug-theft scandal.

Plaintiffs are represented by McCune Wright LLP.

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