USA: ANESTHESIOLOGISTS FACE PENALTY FOR PARTICIPATING IN DEATH PENALTY
May 2, 2010: The American Board of Anesthesiologists has decided to revoke the certification of any member who participates in executing a prisoner by lethal injection.
Although the American Medical Association has long opposed doctor involvement, the anesthesiologists' group (that has 40,000 members) is the first to say it will harshly penalize a health-care worker for abetting lethal injections. The loss of certification would prevent an anesthesiologist from working in most hospitals.
About half of the 35 states performing executions require a doctor to be present. Other states have also recruited doctors, including anesthesiologists, to play a role in executions involving lethal injections. In some jurisdictions, anesthesiologists consult prison officials on dosages. In others, they insert catheters and infuse the three-drug cocktails.
While death penalty opponents welcome the move because it raises yet more questions about lethal injections, capital punishment supporters contend that doctors are not needed during the procedures, which can be administered by prison employees. The group's members learned about the new policy in February. (Sources: Washington Post, Sydney Morning Herald, 02/05/2010)