Due to the effects of the paralytic drug, several members of the Governor`s Commission questioned the wisdom of using pancuronium bromide during an execution.
It is used for merely cosmetic reasons but it significantly increases the risk that the prisoner will be subjected to agonizing pain and be unable to communicate the fact.
The use of pancuronium bromide or a similar paralytic serves at best minimal state interests, but greatly increases the risk of unnecessary and extreme pain.
Nationally based medical associations including the American Medical Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Nurses` Association, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, and the National Commission on Correctional Health, all have ethics guidelines that oppose participation in lethal injections, as do numerous state level organizations.
Medical Association's (AMA's) code of ethics regarding capital punishment in 2001). Am. Nurses Association, Ethics and Human Rights Position Statements: Nurses' Participation in Capital Punishment,
("The American Nurses Association (ANA) is strongly opposed to nurse participation in capital punishment.
Participation in executions is viewed as contrary to the fundamental goals and ethical traditions of the profession.").
The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians takes the position that "assessment, supervision[,] or monitoring of the procedure or the prisoner; procuring, prescribing[,] or preparing medications or solutions; inserting the intravenous catheter; injecting the lethal solution; and/or attending or witnessing the execution as an EMT or Paramedic" are violations of the EMT Oath. NAEMT Position Statement on EMT and Paramedic Participation in Capital Punishment,
(June 9, 2006).
Standards for Health Services in Prisons P-I-08 (Nat'l Comm'n on Corr. Health Care 2003) (on file with the Fordham Law Review) ("The correctional health services staff do not participate in inmate executions."). 21
In Morales v. Hickman, 415 F.Supp.2d 1037 (N.D. Cal. 2006), federal district court Judge Fogel gave the state two options:
either provide medically qualified personnel who would ensure that Morales was unconscious during the procedure
or use only the sodium pentathol or other barbiturate.
The state opted to use two anesthesiologists.
There was a "disconnect" between what the doctors thought they were going to do and what they were in fact expected to do, and shortly before the execution was to proceed they resigned.
The execution remains on hold. See Morales v. Tilton, 465 F.Supp.2d 972 (N.D. Cal. 2006).