Lethal Injection May Also Be Excruciating

In the three-step process of lethal injection, the first drug is supposed to deaden the excruciating pain that is caused by the third drug, which is the one that kills. However, some people are concerned that really the pain is just being masked by the second, paralyzing drug. These worries are legitimate because at least a few states have no trained medical professionals involved in the process.

Critics say the only way to ensure the sedative dosage is adequate is to have trained medical personnel on hand to administer the drug and monitor its levels. That, however, would violate the canons of medical ethics forbidding doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from participating in a killing.

“There are smarter drug cocktails to use where you have less concern [about suffering], but the problem is compounded by people who have no idea what they are doing,” said Dr. Leonidas Koniaris, a University of Miami physician who has done research on lethal injections.

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