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Hepatitis Scare Highlights Need for RN Supervision

Publish Date: February 9, 2016


Rocky Allen, a surgical technologist accused of diverting fentanyl, worked at a Colorado hospital for six months before getting caught swapping a syringe from atop an anesthesia Pyxis work space. The hospital is not releasing Allen’s health status, but out of caution is offering free hepatitis and HIV testing to patients who had surgery during Allen’s employment.

In response to a similar case in 2009, Colorado’s legislature implemented a mandatory registry for surgical technologists that included job reference immunity so hospitals could report to each other if a surgical technologist was suspected of diverting or otherwise jeopardizing patient care. Despite the registry, Allen was apparently able to gain access to powerful narcotics like fentanyl because this was his first job as a registered surgical technologist.

The incident highlights the need for continued vigilance on medication security by all members of the surgical team. Under CMS regulations, the surgical technologist works under the supervision of the registered nurse. The American Society of Anesthesiologist’s position statement on medication security in the operating room confirms that Schedule II – IV medications should not be left unlocked or unattended. Only authorized personnel should have access to medications, including controlled substances.