Doctors Oppose Changes to Lethal Injection Procedures
Some doctors are questioning proposed changes to the state's lethal injection procedures, saying they would require the presence of a trained medical professional during executions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Medical organizations and doctors believe it is unethical for a physician to participate in an execution, according to the Chronicle.
State attorneys have proposed the addition of a continuous infusion of a powerful, short-acting sedative during the execution to ensure that an inmate remains unconscious while other chemicals that cause paralysis and heart failure are injected. The proposal does not call for a doctor to be present during an execution.
However, some doctors say continuously infusing the sedative requires constant monitoring by a trained medical professional.
Nathan Barankin, a spokesperson for the attorney general, said the proposal would not require a doctor's participation because it "is not a medical procedure." He said, "It's a criminal sentence. The legal standard is not what a medical doctor would do, but whether what the state is doing is cruel and unusual punishment."
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has scheduled a hearing in May on whether lethal injection procedures could leave an inmate conscious and in pain. Currently, all executions at San Quentin are halted pending review of procedures (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/10).