An incident involving an employee who diverted pain medications from patients at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, left thousands of people at-risk for developing serious blood-borne diseases, including HIV. The employee received extended jail time for this offense, but many of the victims feel this is not enough. They are pursuing compensation from the hospital for putting them in this position in the first place.
A Swedish Medical Center class action lawsuit lawyer at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. can help you understand your options for filing a claim if you now need regular blood testing because of this incident. We can help you understand how this occurred and explain why it never should have. We will file your claim, fight for you in court, and help you recover every dollar possible for the stress and anxiety you face.
Call us today at 800-550-0000 to schedule a time to talk to a Swedish Medical Center class action lawsuit lawyer today. We offer free consultations.
How Were Swedish Medical Center’s Patients Exposed to HIV and Other Pathogens?
A former surgical technician at the hospital has admitted he took syringes of the narcotic pain killer fentanyl meant for patients in the operating room and replaced them with syringes full of saline solution. The patients affected received no painkillers during surgery, and were also exposed to any number of blood-borne pathogens carried by the employee.
When Swedish Medical Center caught the surgical tech, it launched an investigation into the incident, contacted the necessary regulatory agencies, and notified local law enforcement. Of, course, it also had to determine how this could affect patients.
Between August 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016, Swedish estimates almost 3,000 patients who underwent surgical procedures at Swedish Medical Center could have been victims of the drug diversion tactic. The hospital contacted these patients by letter and phone and offered free blood testing to ensure they did not contract HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. The employee involved is HIV-positive.
The employee received a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for stealing fentanyl from patients. While he did receive jail time, what angers many of those potentially at-risk is that the hospital should have known he had a long history of similar behaviors. He has a documented past of stealing fentanyl, including four hospital firings, a court martial, and dishonorable discharge from the Navy for the offense.
Are There Bigger Issues to Consider in This Incident?
Thousands of people were potentially exposed to deadly diseases because of deficiencies in the way Swedish Medical Center handles fentanyl and similar drugs. State and federal laws outline how medical professionals must prescribe, handle, and dispense this narcotic.
If the safeguards provided by these rules were in place, the employee could not have diverted the drugs, and the hospital would never have exposed patients to used needles. The hospital acted negligently when it allowed drugs including Intravenous Fentanyl to sit unsecured in an operating room or another area where staff had easy, unsupervised access.
The lawsuits filed in this case also name the previous four hospitals where the employee worked, and question the security of opioids in these hospitals.
What Is the Status of the Swedish Medical Center Class Action Lawsuit?
The legal action against Swedish Medical Center also involves other hospitals where the employee previously worked:
- UW Northwest Hospital in Washington State
- Scripps Green Hospital in California
- Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Arizona
- HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center in Arizona
The suits allege these hospitals had an obligation to protect patients from unreasonable risks, but failed to do so when the employee in question possibly exposed them to HIV and other pathogens.
In March of 2017, the class action against Swedish Medical Center, its parent company HealthONE, the Hospital Corporation of American, and HCA-HealthONE LLC added PreCheck Inc., the company that performed the employee’s background check, to the list of defendants.
At this time, the future of these suits is somewhat uncertain because two judges gave opposite rulings.
On August 15, 2016, Denver District Judge Catherine Lemon denied Swedish Medical Center’s motion to dismiss the case. Swedish claimed the patients suffered no actual injuries, the hospital is paying for the blood testing, and all patients tested at the facility tested negative so far.
Judge Lemon, however, ruled that the possible exposure was sufficient injury to continue. She also ruled that patients may be eligible for pain and suffering losses because the theft of their pain medications left them without painkillers post-surgery. She also considers the need for ongoing blood testing one of the harms the victims suffered.
While Judge Lemon supported the victims in continuing the claim, Denver District Court Judge Jay Grant ruled to dismiss the federal class action. He said that because the plaintiffs received free blood testing from Swedish Medical Center, and because, thus far, all results are negative, they have suffered no harm.
Despite this ruling, we continue to accept cases against Swedish Medical Center. If you had surgery in the hospital in 2015 or 2016, we can help you determine the viability of your claim.
How Can I Talk to a Lawyer About the Swedish Medical Center Class Action?
The class action and mass tort attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. are ready to take your call. We can evaluate your case, and offer advice based on your specific situation. If we find you have a viable claim, we will pursue everything due to you.
Call our office today at 800-550-0000 to set up a time to discuss your case with a Swedish Medical Center class action lawsuit lawyer.