Volume 23, Issue 3 (July 1978)
Premature Deaths in Persons with Seizure Disorders—Subtherapeutic Levels of Anticonvulsant Drugs in Postmortem Blood Specimens
The purpose of this paper is to point out the possibility of death occurring prematurely in epileptics from apparently inadequate anticonvulsant therapy. Moreover, the information may be useful to the forensic pathologist faced with the “difficult autopsy”  where no definite cause of death is found. Toxicology is most useful in demonstrating deaths resulting from overdoses. However, subtherapeutic or negative anticonvulsant drug levels in a known epileptic may have equal usefulness in establishing a probable cause of death. The potential problem for the pathologist may be emphasized if he realizes there are approximately 1.7 million epileptics living in the United States today . Rarely does the death of an epileptic make headlines in a major newspaper.