Swedish Medical Center in Colorado was sued for negligent hiring. Located in Denver, the hospital claims on its website to take seriously its responsibility to provide access to the expertise and facilities needed by Colorado communities.
Despite its commitments to improve people’s health through physician clinics, health education, and charity care, a surgery technician allegedly put thousands of patients at risk of being exposed to HIV and hepatitis.
Hepatitis means liver inflammation. This condition is usually caused by a virus. In the United States, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) cause viral hepatitis. HBV and HCV are common among people at risk for, or living with, HIV. HIV can be spread through unprotected sexual contact and injection drug use.
The Denver Post reported the medical facility terminated 28-year-old surgical technologist in January 2016. Court documents indicate that when the technologist was hired he had been terminated previously from four other hospitals and court-martialed during his time in the Navy for stealing pain medication.
At the Colorado hospital, the technologist, tampered with pain killers, referred to as a consumer product, in an indictment by a federal grand jury in Denver. A lawsuit was filed against Swedish Medical Center for negligence in allowing the technologist to obtain a controlled substance by deceit. The technologist has pled not guilty to federal charges alleging he took without permission syringes filled with fentanyl from the hospital. Fentanyl is a narcotic pain medicine anesthesiologists use.
The lawsuit seeks class action status for the patients who had surgery at the hospital while the technologist worked there. Swedish Medical Center has offered free tests to about 2,900 patients for HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Patients are requested to have their blood tested for all three infections. The potential reuse of needles is a concern for the hospital. A drug thief may replace needles and replace them with used needles.
The surgical technologist worked in operating rooms at the hospital. The technologist was allegedly found diverting drugs from the anesthesia work space on January 22, 2016 in the early stages of a surgical procedure. The technologist’s license was summarily suspended on January 29, 2016. When the technologist took a urinalysis, he was positive for Fentanyl and marijuana.
A similar case occurred in 2009 at Rose Medical Center and Audubon Surgery Center of Colorado Springs. At the Denver facility, a technician infected at least 18 patients with hepatitis C by taking painkillers and replacing them with dirty syringes. The technician was sentenced to prison for 30 years.