Autopsy confirms tainted steroid shots as cause of death in Lovelace case

Posted November 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

The death of long-time Circuit Judge Eddie C. Lovelace was connected to tainted steroid shots he received to treat back pain, according to a forensic pathologist. The results of an autopsy were released earlier this month by forensic pathologist George R. Nichols, II.

According to several recent published reports including one Associated Press report, Nichols performed an autopsy at the request of Lovelace’s family. Judge Lovelace died on September 17 at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville of what officials originally thought was a stroke.

Nichols said that the injections, which were given to Lovelace in Tennessee, contained a fungus that set off a series of health problems that ultimately led to his death.

“The organism was introduced by an injection of a tainted pharmaceutical substance. That’s how it all happened,” Nichols stated in a media interview two weeks ago.

The fungus caused a blood vessel infection, which Nichols said caused a blockage of blood at the base of Lovelace’s brain. That resulted in a stroke and the judge’s eventual death.

Lovelace, who had been injured in an earlier automobile accident causing the problems with his back, received the steroid injections at Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville on July 27, August 17 and August 31, according to Tom Carroll of Monticello, a lawyer for the Lovelace family.

Tainted injections are blamed for a fungal meningitis outbreak that spread to 19 states, causing almost 30 deaths and over 360 known illnesses.

Lovelace’s family requested the autopsy in hopes of clearing up questions about his death.