Sunday, 28 January 2007

The Gainesville Sun shines some light on lethal injection

The Gainesville Sun shines some light on lethal injection:

The Gainesville Sun has two articles on lethal injection (in Florida and elsewhere) in the Sunday edition, both by Nathan Crabbe:
  • This article, entitled "DOCTORS & EXECUTIONS: A complex dilemma of medicine, ethics and law," examines the current controversy over the participation and anonymity of doctors and other medical professionals in executions.
...The hood is off doctors involved in Florida executions, creating a conflict for a state trying to ensure that lethal injection is medically sound.

The Florida Department of Corrections has fought to conceal the identity of doctors who pronounce inmates dead at executions, saying it's against Florida law to reveal these doctors' names. In the death chamber, these physicians wear hoods and goggles, shielding their faces from execution witnesses.

But now the Alachua County medical examiner has released autopsy reports from 18 executions revealing the names of three doctors — Elio Madan, Rodrigo Quintana and Victor Selyutin — who have pronounced executed inmates dead. Unlike the Department of Corrections, the medical examiner contends that state law only protects the identity of the executioner, not these doctors.

The issue of doctor involvement in executions presents a "Catch-22" for Florida and other states trying to fix problems with lethal injection. ...
  • This article, entitled "Doctors have a long history with executions," has some historical perspective on doctor participation in executions, and notes some unintended consequences of past methods of execution.
Doctors being involved in executions is nothing new — just look at Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the namesake of the guillotine in the 18th century.

Guillotin helped develop the device as a more humane execution method, but was later disgusted by the way it was used. Dr. Jonathan Groner cites that example in an article* warning doctors of the unintended consequences of taking part in executions.

"It's generally worked out badly for doctors and society," said Groner, an associate professor of surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health.

The article, published in the British Medical Journal, looks at doctor involvement in executions ranging from Nazi Germany to the University of Oklahoma anesthesiologist who conceived the lethal injection procedure. ...

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