Local woman claims she contracted hepatitis from surgery tech accused of tampering with syringes

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SEATTLE --  After 1,500 patients at two different Washington hospitals received letters about potential exposure to HIV and hepatitis, one local woman says she is a victim.

Carina Sauerzopf is one of 1,300 Northwest Hospital patients who received a letter urging them to get tested for hepatitis and HIV after surgery technician Rocky Allen is accused in Colorado of injecting syringes of narcotics into himself and then putting the used needles back into rotation for surgery patients.

Before Allen made it to Colorado, he worked at several hospitals in Washington, including Lakewood Surgery Center and Northwest Hospital.

“I went in regarding kidney stones; now I understand I’ve come out with hepatitis B,” Sauerzopf said.

Sauerzopf added that she did not have hepatitis before going into surgery in January 2012. When she learned she had the disease, she said it didn’t make sense until she got the letter from Northwest in March.

“I don’t practice in negative behavior. When I got the letter, it totally made sense,” Sauerzopf said.

Her confusion over how she got the disease has turned into anger.

“There are so many different emotions that come through -- you're angry, you're confused, why would anybody do this?” Sauerzopf said.

And the question now is how did Allen stay under the radar for so long after being fired at four different hospitals across the country. He was fired from Northwest Hospital, a hospital from California and two more in Arizona before he was accused of potentially exposing thousands to HIV and hepatitis at a Colorado hospital.

Attorney James Avery says up to 60 people, including clients from Washington, have contacted him for representation. He plans to file a multi-district lawsuit.

“Had Northwest Hospital reported it as a theft, this gentleman most likely would have had a criminal record and discovered by the other hospitals,” Avery said.

Northwest Hospital confirmed they fired Allen in 2012 but would not disclose why he was terminated.

The state Health Department said no one reported Allen to them during his time in Washington. They continue to monitor for possible exposures in Washington but they say the risk is extremely low.

“Our investigation has not found any particular risky behavior that we believe creates a high likelihood that anyone was affected,” Health Department spokesperson Julie Graham said.

Although there is no proof that Sauerzopf contracted the disease from Allen, she is convinced she is a victim and now worries about living with hepatitis.

“Nobody wants this attention, nobody wants this 15 minutes of fame,” Sauerzopf said.

Q13 News reached out to Northwest Hospital to talk about Sauerzopf's claims but did not get a response as of Thursday evening.






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