Eloise Soler at her home near Oso Bay, Texas. Soler was sickened by contaminated medication that she received during heart surgery at the Corpus Christi Medical Center. Tests showed that Soler and others were sickened by Rhodococcus equi, a soil bacteria that typically infects horses and other grazing animals.(Photo: Todd Yates for USA TODAY)
The infection came out of nowhere, 36 hours after Eloise Soler's heart surgery last summer at the Corpus Christi Medical Center in South Texas. As her fever spiked to 103, other patients developed similar symptoms. Doctors raced to pinpoint the cause.
Tests showed that all of the patients had been sickened by the same bacteria, Rhodococcus equi, which typically infects horses and other grazing animals, and they all fell ill after infusions of the same drug, calcium gluconate.
The drug was made 200 miles away by Specialty Compounding, which sits in a category of pharmacies that mix unique or hard-to-find drugs not only for individual patients, but also in batches for doctors and hospitals. By the time the company recalled the medication days later, investigators believed it had sickened at least 15 people; two had died.
"You think because there are so many controls on drugs that you're not going to be given something that will make you sick," says Soler, 60, who spent months recovering. "I just couldn't believe it."
Two years after contaminated drugs linked to a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts killed 64 and...
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