alexa The medical-legal quandary of healthcare in capital punishment: an ethical dilemma for the anesthesia provider.


International Journal of School and Cognitive Psychology

Author(s): Johnson KW

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Abstract The case of Brase v Rees was presented before the US Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of death by lethal injection as practiced in the state of Kentucky. The 3-drug combination of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride is a key aspect in question. Capital punishment conflicts with medical and nursing code of ethics preventing providers who are skilled at difficult intravenous (IV) access, assessment of appropriate sedation, and involvement without fear of disciplinary action. Therefore, untrained or undertrained personnel from the prison have been delegated these duties. Cases in which failure to establish or maintain IV access has led to executions lasting up to 90 minutes before the execution was complete. Participation by skilled medical personnel has been a debate between the medical and legal communities since the inception of lethal injection. Healthcare should reevaluate the ethical and moral principle of beneficence as the legal system attempts to evaluate the constitutionality of lethal injection. Can a nurse or doctor step out of the role of medical professional, use knowledge and skill to make death by lethal injection more humane, and not violate the ethical principle of "do no harm"?
This article was published in AANA J and referenced in International Journal of School and Cognitive Psychology

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