Navigation Links
Doctors and medical ethicist discuss whether doctors should participate in capital punishment
Date:9/4/2007

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Should doctors be involved in the state-ordered administration of capital punishment? In the September issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, three anesthesiologists and a medical ethicist take an in-depth look at this question in a commentary and two editorials.

None of these articles debate whether capital punishment is justifiable. Instead, the authors explore the current position of the American Medical Association (AMA), which prohibits physician participation in legally authorized executions. Here are a few highlights of the arguments presented in these articles.

In a commentary column, David Waisel, M.D., an anesthesiologist practicing at Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, asserts that it is time to reassess the AMA's position on this issue and allow doctors to participate in state-mandated executions to help provide the condemned a more humane path to death. Dr. Waisel cites numerous details about the technical problems associated with lethal injection, the form of capital punishment most commonly used in the United States today. Dr. Waisel reasons that doctors, particularly anesthesiologists, possess the skills to administer the medications used in lethal injections in a manner that prevents undue suffering.

"If state administration of capital punishment is legal and ongoing, humane methods of execution should be sought and applied. It is honorable for physicians to minimize the harm to these condemned individuals and organized medicine has an obligation to permit physician participation in legal execution," he writes.

Two editorials that follow Dr. Waisel's commentary arrive at the opposite conclusion. In one editorial, William Lanier, M.D., editor in chief, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and Keith Berge, M.D., who are anesthesiologists at Mayo Clinic applaud Dr. Waisel for "bringing forward this emotional issue so that it can be pondered and discussed by a broad audience." But the authors oppose doctors' participation in capital punishment, arguing that the Hippocratic corpus that guides doctors prohibits medical professionals from assisting in executions.

"In the case of capital punishment, we believe that whatever theoretical good might emerge from a successful and well-executed judicial killing, there is certainly harm in causing the death of a person under a physician's care," says Drs. Lanier and Berge.

Drs. Lanier and Berge propose replacing the anesthesia-related drugs currently used in lethal injections with personnel and tools that are "clearly distinguished from representing medical care."

In a second editorial, Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., a medical ethicist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, also argues against the participation of doctors in execution. Dr. Caplan asserts that a doctor does not have a duty to alleviate the suffering of a condemned person unless that prisoner has a previous medical relationship with that doctor.

"It seems a bit late for physicians to step forward in the context of an execution and say they are motivated by a duty of mercy given that many prisoners suffer miserably because of the poor state of prison-based medicine," says Dr. Caplan.

Dr. Caplan also suggests that involving doctors in capital punishment may affect the overall moral standing accorded the practice of execution because "physician prestige and the respect afforded medicine are in part transferred to executions when physicians are involved."

Dr. Caplan asserts that physicians are not needed to serve as executioners using lethal injection because "... governments and societies committed to execution using this technique can achieve this goal by properly training executioners."

The commentary and editorials on this topic are available online at www.mayoclinicproceedings.com.


'/>"/>
Contact: John Murphy
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Cancer Doctors Okays Controversial Prostate Therapy
2. Doctors needed urgently in Gujarat
3. Doctors operate upon patients in candlelight- latest from the quake scene
4. Two doctors suspended for wrong brain surgery
5. Doctors at risk- the ugly side of the noble profession
6. Lure of the home turf brings back NRI doctors
7. Thakur warns doctors
8. Negligent doctors asked to cough up 3 lakhs for death of patient
9. Doctors advice early anemia tests
10. Emphasis to ban Drugs ads by Doctors
11. Doctors not to accept gifts from drug companies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... A revolution is underway. Brooklyn-based company, ... for the millions of people who require these medical transport services annually. ... the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS has put forth an industry-changing app that ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand pet supplements ... that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula is all-natural and ... main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft Chews are ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June ... , brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to ... is not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that lice have ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of the ... to iHire in recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , The ... Health & Wellness Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was one ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. Prone to extreme mood shifts and ... him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. “If there was a knife on ... say he was going to kill them. If we were driving on the freeway, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Any dentist who has ... of the current process. Many of them do not even ... technical difficulties and high laboratory costs involved. And those who ... it at such a high cost that the majority of ... Dr. Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... DUBLIN , June 23, 2016 ... "Global MEMS Devices Medical Market Analysis 2016 - Forecast to ... The report contains up to date financial ... reliable analysis. Assessment of major trends with potential impact on ... dive analysis of market segmentation which comprises of sub markets, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016 ... CST on Thursday, July 7, 2016 , , , , ... ) , , , , EXPERT PANELISTS:  , , ... Naik; Senior Industry Analyst, Christi Bird; Senior Industry Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar ... The global pharmaceutical industry is witnessing an exceptional ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: