Thursday, 1 March 2007

Responses to Florida Commission on Lethal Injection’s report - Jonathan I. Groner MD

Responses to Florida Commission on Lethal Injection’s report

Jonathan I. Groner MD

Cell phone: 614-204-1824

Findings Section:

The commission fails to mention that the chemical burns on Diaz’s arms are unlike any burns that anyone has seen in any lethal injection. Thus, it does not fully acknowledge the terrible pain this man likely suffered while he was dying.

Recommendations Section:

It is often stated in the recommendations that “suitably qualified and trained” individuals must perform the lethal injection duties, but who is to do the training, and what the individuals’ qualifications are is never stated.

4 a. The commissioners also recommend a pre-execution examination by a “appropriately trained and qualified persons” to look for possible sites for vascular access (IV insertion). Obviously, only a doctor or nurse would have these qualifications.

4 b. The commission recommends considering femoral line insertion as an alternative to a peripheral IV. This has been performed in Missouri by a board-certified surgeon. This procedure is only done by medical professionals, usually doctors. I personally do not know of any circumstance where someone other than a doctor performs central line insertions.

4c. The commission recommends that the executioners minimize IV tubing length, This is impossible since the drugs are injected from another room. This is a bad practice – and would not be allowed in a hospital – because large volume IV push drugs should only be given while monitoring the IV insertion site. Without this safeguard, undetected IV infiltration is likely to happen again

4d – 1-6 these are all VERY strange reccommendations.

1. disconnect IV to detect back bleeding – in the middle of an execution?

3. “give small doses of the medicine to see if there is any effect.” This sounds like a severe form of torture, akin giving someone small jolts of electricity before giving the lethal charge. It would taunt the inmate and prolong the execution.

5 –“hold hand over site” they mean palpate the IV site for signs of infiltration, but apparently the commissioners are unwilling to to admit that someone might have to touch the inmate during the execution because this sounds too much like medical care.

6 – this makes no sense. It is not standard medical practice to place a tourniquet around an arm to see if the IV still drips.

5. “ensure that the condemned individual is unconscious” – This, in my opinion, requires someone who has training in anesthesia. Also, it must be done not just once, but throughout the execution process. Assessing for unconsciousness requires a physical examination of the subject combined with knowledge of the effects of anesthetic drugs.

In Summary, the report clearly identifies that it the current procedures, which use untrained personnel, are unacceptable to the commission. The, the status quo for lethal injection in Florida is unacceptable. However, the report fails to identify who will train the personnel, or what training is acceptable. The report never uses the following words: “physician,” “nurse,” or “doctor.” This is an obvious attempt to avoid the “Hippocratic paradox,” wherein it is wrong for untrained personnel to perform executions but also wrong for trained medical
personnel to perform executions.Thus, in the final analysis, the report tells

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