2 Washington hospitals urge HIV tests after syringe swap

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SEATTLE (AP) — Two hospitals in Washington state have urged nearly 1,500 patients to get tested for hepatitis and HIV after a former surgery technician was charged with stealing and swapping a syringe.

Rocky Allen has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he took a syringe of painkillers and replaced it with one containing another substance at a Colorado hospital. He was arrested in that state last month.

Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle says the exposure risk is low, but they're testing affected patients to be safe. It notified 1,340 people who had surgery in early 2012 in an operating room where Allen may have worked.

Washington health officials said Wednesday that Allen worked at two other state facilities. Lakewood Surgery Center said it's notifying 135 patients.

Allen was fired this year from a Denver-area hospital, which has offered about 2,900 patients free testing.

Allen's attorney has said Allen suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and he started using drugs after witnessing horrors in Afghanistan.