In an ongoing investigation last year more than 7,300 patients at a San Diego-area hospital may have been exposed to contaminated medications. Although many believe healthcare associated infections only come from hospitals, the problem was traced back to a pharmacy lab within the hospital where inspectors found "dust, stains and foreign material" even though the environment was supposedly sterile. Health inspectors found an oversight in infection control at the Paradise Valley Hospital in National City, California, where healthcare officials not only did not monitor the lab but also falsified documents covering up the failure to check infection control practices within other departments of the hospital.
Kaiser Health News describes the hospital as having a compounding pharmacy, "which involved mixing or altering approved drugs to meet patient's specific needs. Intravenous medications and patient nutrition make up much of the compounding work in hospitals." According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare and Medicaid, "the state said the Paradise Valley pharmacy knew that samples taken from workers' gloved fingertips had tested positive for bacterial growth, but those employees were allowed to continue mixing IVs despite the contamination danger that activity posed."
A similar event occurred in 2012 and 2013 where a nationwide meningitis outbreak was linked to contaminated injections and more than 700 people were infected, and 64 died. The spread of infection from sources such as labs and pharmacies have the potential to spread in a larger range because of distribution rates to other environments. Unsanitary conditions in any pharmacy, or lab facility, poses serious risk to patients and healthcare workers because "bacteria can grow on surfaces and equipment, leading to contamination of IV drugs" and environmental areas and potentially cause lethal infections.