Autopsy: Kentucky Judge's Death Linked To Shots - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Autopsy: Kentucky Judge's Death Linked To Shots

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ALBANY, Ky. - A forensic pathologist said an autopsy shows a Kentucky judge's death was linked to tainted steroid shots at a Tennessee clinic.

George Nichols II performed the autopsy of Eddie Lovelace's body at the request of the judge's family.

Nichols said Wednesday the seemingly routine shots Lovelace received for neck and back pain contained a fungus. Nichols said the fungus caused a blood vessel infection, which in turn caused a stroke and Lovelace's eventual death.

Lovelace was a longtime circuit judge in southern Kentucky who died September 17 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Initially his family thought he'd died from a stroke, but it wasn't until reports surfaced about the meningitis outbreak that his family began wondering whether his pain-relieving steroid injections were linked to the 78-year-old's death.

He had received the injections at Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center in Nashville.

No word yet on whether they plan to file a lawsuit.

Nationwide, more than 350 people have been sickened in 19 states, according to numbers from the Center for Disease Control. Twenty eight people have died.

Another seven individuals are infected with fungal joint infections from steroid shots administrated to other joints like the knees, hips, shoulders or ankles.

The outbreak has been linked to epidural steroid injections that were produced by the New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts.

This type of meningitis is not contagious, but health officials have said it is incredibly hard to diagnose and treat.

A preliminary investigation by the Food and Drug Administration revealed on Friday the presence of mold, bacteria and other discoloration on vials and equipment at the Framingham, Mass.-facility that mixes and distributes medications.

Investigators found 83 vials out of a bin containing 321 vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate -- the injectable steroid tied to the outbreak -- contained a "greenish black foreign matter." Another 17 vials in the same bin contained a "white filamentous material." Fifty of the vials were sent by the FDA to a lab and tested, and all 50 confirmed the presence of microbial growth.

The FDA's report also found the New England Compounding Center had conducted its own tests and found contamination dating back to January 2012, but had no documentation of actions taken to address the problems.

Massachusetts health officials have moved to revoke the New England Compounding Center's license.

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(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)

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