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Should Arizona Hospitals be Held Accountable for Hiring of Negligent Surgical Tech, Robert “Rocky” Allen?

Published on June 13, 2016

By now you may have heard the name Robert “Rocky” Allen. He’s a surgical tech who made headlines for putting patients in Arizona, Colorado and California at risk of Hepatitis B & C and HIV. Allen is accused of stealing fentanyl and swapping syringes at four different hospitals. More than 5,000 people have been notified and recommended for testing. But after a look at Allen’s employment history, an important question remains – how did Allen continue to be hired at hospitals despite being fired from every job for substance abuse, stealing, or swapping syringes? Here’s a timeline worth reading:

April 2007: Allen serves in the U.S. Navy as a surgical technologist working for two hospitals including a Naval hospital in Beemerton, WA and was deployed to trauma hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2010. Prosectuors say Allen was prosecuted for “similar behavior” while in the military. He was given a general discharge in September 2011. Allen did not receive treatment from the Navy for substance abuse or post-traumatic stress.

March 2012: Allen is fired by Northwest Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle after working there for less than three months. In his next job application, he writes that he was “let go/laid off” from the hospital.

January 2013: Allen worked as a medical contractor from January 2012 – January 2013 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Yemen. This experience is listed on his resume.

June 2013: Allen works at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, CA. He was caught switching a syringe of fentanyl with a saline syringe in an operating room. When confronted, he produced the syringe from his sock and admitted he intended to inject the fentanyl. He worked here for less than two months. The hospital reported the theft of a controlled substance to the DEA, as required, on June 7, 2013, but because that report does not ask for the alleged thief’s name, nothing stopped Allen from doing the same thing again at a different hospital.

May 2014: Allen works again as a medical contractor from May 2013 – May 2014 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Yemen. This experience is listed on his resume.

July 2014: Allen is fired from Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Arizona after works there for a mere six weeks. He tested positive for marijuana, but negative for fentanyl. He was caught going through a sharps container trying to get syringes.

October 2014: Allen is fired from HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix after he tested positive for fentanyl while working there as a surgical attendant. He worked here from July 28, 2014 to September 26, 2014.

January 2016: Allen’s Colorado state surgical technologist license is suspended after authorities found evidence he was stealing syringes containing fentanyl from the surgery room and using it. He worked here between August 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016.

Hospitals have a duty to their patients to properly screen potential employees before hiring. With so many short stints with hospitals, why was Allen’s employment history not looked into? And if it was looked into, how extensive was the screening? Most importantly, how did he manage to work in six hospitals in four states and a deployment in Afghanistan before he was stopped?

The hospitals should be held responsible for their negligence in hiring, screening and failure to supervise their employee, Rocky Allen. We at Knapp & Roberts intend to do this because we know a hospital’s hiring, screening and supervision processes are the first line of defense in preventing these things from happening again.

Knapp & Roberts represents patients who have received a letter from Banner or HonorHealth informing them to get tested. If you have received a letter from Phoenix hospitals, John C. Lincoln Medical Center or Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, stating your risk and offering free testing, contact Knapp & Roberts Law Firm immediately. Our expert Arizona medical malpractice lawyers will guide you through this difficult time and look out for your best interest every step of the way. Contact us today at 480-991-7677 to schedule a free consultation.

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