Reps from Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California claimed that back in 2013 the hospital alerted the DEA that an employee named Rocky Allen stealing fentanyl. Apparently, Allen was caught first-hand swiping fentanyl syringes.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl “is a powerful synthetic opiate analgesic similar to but more potent than morphine. It is typically used to treat patients with severe pain, or to manage pain after surgery.”
Despite the hospital’s effort to notify authorities, Allen, a surgical technologist, was able to secure employment with three different hospitals in Arizona and California after Scripps fired him for the drug theft. His ability to continue working throughout the United States while maintaining his fentanyl addiction has put an estimated 5,000 patients at risk.
Officials at Scripps maintain the hospital filed a complaint with the DEA on June 7, 2015 in response to the federal agency’s demand that practitioners report the theft of controlled substances. However, a spokesman for the DEA has neither confirmed nor denied this action.
Allen’s troubles finally caught up with him last month when the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, California terminated his employment when he was once again allegedly discovered pocketing a fentanyl syringe. As a cautionary measure, Swedish has informed the nearly 3,000 patients that potentially came into contact with Allen of their risk of exposure to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
As Allen’s history of drug theft continues to gain national attention, other former employers including Banner Thunderbird Hospital in Glendale, Arizona and HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona have been offering free blood tests to patients that were previously under Allen’s care.
As of now, both the DEA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are conducting investigations into the Swedish incident while Allen begins facing federal criminal charges of drug diversion.