An Englewood, Colorado hospital is notifying nearly 3,000 patients who had surgery between August 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016 in the main operating rooms and in the orthopedic operating rooms on October 28, 2015 over a potential exposure to blood borne pathogens after identifying a potential drug diversion (the stealing of narcotic pain medication intended for patients) by a former employee.

Swedish Medical Center says the situation prompted an immediate and thorough investigation involving several regulatory agencies and law enforcement has been notified.

Hospital officials is working closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on an investigation of the actions of that former employee who may have put some of our surgery patients at risk for exposure to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, viruses that can potentially cause long-term health concerns.

At this point there is no evidence of any patient exposure; however, a position of extreme caution is being taken by offering free testing to all patients who had surgery at Swedish Medical Center in locations where this individual worked at any time during this individual’s employment, including those days the employee was not on the schedule or in the facility.

Approximately 3,000 patients who had surgery at Swedish Medical Center between August 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016 are receiving calls and letters to notify them of the potential for exposure and to request that they take a free, confidential blood test to screen for these viruses. We are taking these extensive measures to ensure the safety of our patients, our staff, and our community.

“We appreciate the cooperation we have received as we work through our investigative process,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We join Swedish Medical Center in prioritizing patient safety as we work collaboratively through this situation.”

“We deeply regret that one of our former employees may have put patients at risk, and are sorry for any uncertainty or anxiety this may cause,” said Richard A. Hammett, President and CEO, Swedish Medical Center. “Please know our first concern is the health, care, safety and privacy of our patients and we are working diligently to look after the wellbeing of the patients who may have been affected by the wrongful actions of this individual.”