On Lethal Injections: A Follow Up

I wanted to follow up on yesterday's post about the oral arguments heard by the Supreme Court yesterday regarding lethal injection. I found a good article from Huffingtonpost which lays out the process and the potential problems the process could cause.

The first of the three drugs used in lethal injections is an anesthetic (sodium thiopental) to render the prisoner unconscious. Next is pancuronium bromide, a drug that paralyzes voluntary muscles, including the lungs and diaphragm, but does not affect consciousness or the experience of pain. The final drug is potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.

If the prisoner does not receive a sufficient quantity of anesthesia he will feel himself suffocating from the pancuronium bromide. If he is still conscious when given the potassium chloride, he will feel his veins burning as the poison courses to his heart. Indeed, potassium chloride is so painful that U.S. veterinarian guidelines prohibit its use on domestic animals unless a vet first ensures they are deeply unconscious.

Incorrect dosage, faulty catheter insertion, kinking IV tubes - many problems can prevent anesthesia from working. No surgery would ever be conducted without assessing and continually monitoring the patient's level of consciousness. But during lethal injections, no one makes sure the prisoner is deeply unconscious before and during the injection of the second and third drugs.

It should also be noted that the process was developed 30 years ago and has not been modified. Oh, and apparently no anesthesiologists or ANY EXPERTS AT ALL!!!! were consulted in the development of the process.

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