In light of recent events in Denver and other communities involving the switching of patient medication by surgical technician Rocky Allen, Scripps has reviewed his employment history and conducted an internal investigation into potential risk to our patients.
Mr. Allen worked for Scripps for 20 days in 2013 as a surgical technician trainee at Scripps Green Hospital until he was terminated. Our investigation found no evidence that any Scripps patients were harmed. However, out of an abundance of caution, we will be sending letters to 518 patients beginning this week offering them free, confidential testing as a safety precaution.
“We believe the risk of exposure to illness is extremely low,” said Dr. Maida Soghikian, chief of staff for Scripps Green Hospital. “Patient safety is our highest priority and of paramount concern. We believe the right thing for our patients is to offer testing in order to allay any anxiety. We regret that this terminated employee would cause this level of concern for our patients."
Allen trained at Scripps Green for 20 days between May 9 and June 7, 2013. He was immediately placed on investigatory leave and then terminated when Scripps determined he was trying to switch a syringe of fentanyl citrate – a pain medication – with a syringe of saline. Because Allen was under close supervision during his training period, it is believed he would have had little opportunity to successfully switch patient medications. At the time of Allen’s termination, Scripps notified the federal Drug Enforcement Agency of the drug diversion incident.
The internal investigation began as concerns over Mr. Allen’s activities at hospitals throughout the United States came to light. Scripps worked in collaboration with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency to determine whether patients have been put at risk for exposure to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
“The best course of action is to notify anyone who may have been in contact with Rocky Allen to offer them testing,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “We encourage all of those who are notified to get tested.”
The notification only involves patients who had surgical procedures at Scripps Green Hospital between May 9 and June 7, 2013, during the shifts that Allen worked. The notification will include instructions regarding testing and all the information that patients will need.
Patients with questions about the testing process should call 1-800-SCRIPPS or speak to their physician.