Inadequate anaesthesia in lethal injection for execution

Leonidas G. Koniaris, Teresa A. Zimmers, David A. Lubarsky, Jonathan P. Sheldon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anaesthesia during lethal injection is essential to minimise suffering and to maintain public acceptance of the practice. Lethal injection is usually done by sequential administration of thiopental, pancuronium, and potassium chloride. Protocol information from Texas and Virginia showed that executioners had no anaesthesia training, drugs were administered remotely with no monitoring for anaesthesia, data were not recorded and no peer-review was done. Toxicology reports from Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina showed that post-mortem concentrations of thiopental in the blood were lower than that required for surgery in 43 of 49 executed inmates (88%); 21 (43%) inmates had concentrations consistent with awareness. Methods of lethal injection anaesthesia are flawed and some inmates might experience awareness and suffering during execution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1412-1414
Number of pages3
JournalLancet
Volume365
Issue number9468
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 16 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Koniaris, L. G., Zimmers, T. A., Lubarsky, D. A., & Sheldon, J. P. (2005). Inadequate anaesthesia in lethal injection for execution. Lancet, 365(9468), 1412-1414. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)66377-5