Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Does Execution By Lethal Injection Involve Conscious Asphyxiation?

Date:
April 24, 2007
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Execution by lethal injection may cause death by asphyxiation, and prisoners being executed may be conscious and may experience pain, claim the authors of a new study published this week in PLoS Medicine.

Lethal injection table.
Credit: Provided by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Execution by lethal injection may cause death by asphyxiation, and prisoners being executed may be conscious and may experience pain, claim the authors of a new study published this week in PLoS Medicine. Leonidas Koniaris and colleagues from the University of Miami assessed data from two US states that release information on executions together with previously published work on the drugs used in the protocols for lethal injections. They conclude that these protocols may not reliably effect death through the mechanisms intended.

Lethal injection is used for execution in a number of countries, most notably the US and China. The current regimens for lethal injection in the US are based on one drawn up by legislators in Oklahoma, which in turn to appear to have been based on personal opinion rather than independent research. The drugs used are a barbiturate, thiopental (which acts as an anesthetic, but does not have any analgesic effect), a neuromuscular blocker, pancuronium bromide (which causes muscle paralysis); and an electrolyte, potassium chloride (which stops the heart from beating).

Each of these drugs on its own was apparently intended by those who derived the protocols to be sufficient to cause death; the combination was intended to produce anesthesia then death due to respiratory and cardiac arrest. Following a number of executions in the US, however, it has recently become apparent that the regimen as currently administered does not work as intended. Some prisoners take many minutes to die, and others become very distressed.

The authors concluded that in the current regimen thiopental might not be fatal and might even be insufficient to induce surgical anesthesia for the duration of the execution, and that the doses of potassium chloride used did not reliably induce cardiac arrest. Hence, potentially aware inmates are likely to die through asphyxiation induced by the muscle paralysis caused by pancuronium. The authors conclude that even if lethal injection is administered without technical error, those executed may suffocate, and therefore ''the conventional view of lethal injection as an invariably peaceful and painless death is questionable.''

Citation: Zimmers TA, Sheldon JP, Lubarsky DA, López-Muñoz F, Waterman L, et al. (2007) Lethal injection for execution: Chemical asphyxiation? PLoS Med 4(4): e156. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040156)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Does Execution By Lethal Injection Involve Conscious Asphyxiation?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070424091513.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2007, April 24). Does Execution By Lethal Injection Involve Conscious Asphyxiation?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070424091513.htm
Public Library of Science. "Does Execution By Lethal Injection Involve Conscious Asphyxiation?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070424091513.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) — TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) — 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins