The thiopental used is not an anesthetic, but a hypnotic when used in high concentrations. In current medical practice, it is used in conjunction with other true anesthetics as a "primer" to make induction easier. As a "first run" drug, it's effect takes place within a few seconds, and lasts a few minutes as the drug, bound to nerves, unbinds, and enters the blood, so that the blood levels are the inverse of the tissue level.
There are other combination of drugs that can do the devil's work much better, but I'll never tell, and I hope no other physician tells either.
This form of killing is based on an illusion: the medical props, the monitoring and the physician's "presence" tend to lull the public into thinking that the process is clean and efficient; it ain't. If the pancuronium accomplishes its task of paralysis, an EKG or an ECG cannot exhibit a "pain" pattern, and is a waste of time, as well as effort.
That does not even take into consideration the damage caused by improper insertion of the iv lines. If the vein used is too small, it cannot support a bolus of drugs quickly injected, and an non-medical person cannot judge the successful placement of the plastic catheter. With Mr Diaz, veins in both arms blew, making the delivery intramuscular, with slower absorption.
Unless a trained medical person does a cut down, the procedure turns into a bloody vivisection, and as Benny Demps so accurately claimed, butchery. There are too many things that can go wrong to botch a lethal injection. It is pure Hollywood, smothered in the illusion that the inmate feels no pain. If the Goons insist on killing this way, let it be in the open so that folks can watch it on TV during dinner or at an "execution" (sports) Bar; that will stop it cold.
G M Larkin MD
Charlotte NC USA