Former Colorado surgical tech facing federal charges for drug diversion

A former surgical technician from the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, is facing federal drug charges after an investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

Rocky Allen, 28, of Denver, is accused of stealing vials of fentanyl from the hospital. He has also tested positive for HIV after submitting to a blood test.

A press release from the CDPHE’s disease control and environmental epidemiology division said an investigation regarding Allen’s alleged drug diversion between August 2015 and January 2016 is now complete.

Approximately 3,000 patients were potentially exposed to Allen through his conduct, the division said, putting them at a potential risk of exposure to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. A number of those who were potentially exposed took advantage of free testing offered by Swedish Medical Center, but complete test results were not obtained from 1,000 patients. Free testing will continue to be available for those potentially exposed.

From the blood tests made available, CDPHE’s investigation shows no evidence of the transmission of any disease from Allen or from other patients, although the release said the absence of evidence is not proof of no disease transmission because not all notified patients have been tested.

The Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division finalized its report in early April and found deficient practices by Swedish pharmacy services including its drug auditing procedures, infection control and surgical services. A plan of correction was issued to the hospital.

Allen was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on charges of tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by deceit, U.S. Attorney John Walsh, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations’ Kansas City Field Office Special Agent in Charge Catherine Hermsen, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Barbra Roach announced in February.

According to the indictment, on Jan. 22, 2016, Allen, with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of bodily injury, and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to such risk, tampered and attempted to tamper with a consumer product, namely a syringe containing fentanyl citrate, by removing the syringe containing fentanyl citrate and replacing it with a similar syringe containing other substance. The grand jury found Allen did knowingly and intentionally acquire and obtain fentanyl citrate, a controlled substance, by deception and subterfuge.