Seattle hospital notifies patients of infection risk linked to former surgical tech

Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle has warned more than 1,300 patients of possible exposure to HIV and hepatitis B and C after discovering a former surgical technician was arrested on drug diverting charges, according to a KIRO7 report.

The former employee, Rocky Allen, was arrested in February after he was accused of stealing a syringe of fentanyl from Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colo., potentially putting roughly 3,000 patients at risk for bloodborne illnesses.

His arrested prompted several other hospitals, including two hospitals in Arizona and Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., to offer blood tests to their patients, as they had also employed Mr. Allen.

Now, Northwest Hospital has been added to that list, as Mr. Allen worked there for a few months in late 2011 and early 2012 before being fired. While the hospital believes patients' risks are low, they are offering people who had surgery at the hospital from Dec. 30, 2011, through March 9, 2012, free blood tests.

Because of this case, Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, has called for more open communication between healthcare provider organizations about drug diverters like Mr. Allen. "It sure would be helpful for healthcare employers to be able to share past employee information as it relates to drug diversion or have a government body where this information could be reported," Mr. Van Gorder previously told Becker's. "As in this case, the inability to share this information put patients at risk in multiple states."

More articles on patient safety:
Sutter hospital loses operating room backup power, cancels surgeries
How do you make surgery less invasive? Mechanical engineers look to origami
APIC releases updated guide to prevent CLABSI

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