Should Doctors Treat Inmates Awaiting Execution Like Patients With A Terminal Illness?

Should Doctors Treat Inmates Awaiting Execution Like Patients With A Terminal Illness?

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Should doctors treat inmates awaiting execution like patients with a terminal illness?  The federal and the medical world remains divided on whether medical personnel should assist in state executions. The 8th amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, such as executing an inmate by a firing squad, hanging, or electrocution.  To carry out this law, the courts has required medical personnel assistances in state executions through the lethal injection procedure.   Unfortunately, the American Medical Association has strictly declared that it is a violation against medical ethics for doctors to participate in state executions, which encourages many medical personnel to ignore inmates under the death penalty as potential patients. The only solution that would attempt to satisfy both the federal and the medical world is to have a system that trains state executioners to medically carry out this procedure better. However, even with any improvement in this system, there are doubts that state executioners will have the medical expertise to carry out such a complex procedure.  In light of the fixed medical and federal protocols, medical personnel must carry out state executions in order to minimize the potential for inmates to suffer unreasonably.

Some may argue an execution system without the involvement of medical personnel is practical, if state executioners are medically trained.   If this is the case, state executioners must be able to carry out tasks like the “placement of intravenous lines, monitoring of consciousness, adjustment in medication timing and dosage” in order substitute the need for medical personnel (Gawande 151). Apparently, this system will be heavily criticized for being impractical for many reasons.   An ethi...

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...timisms to attempt to satisfy both medical and federal worlds. Realistically, this solution is impractical because state executioners cannot substitute the role of medical personnel without violating the 8th amendment. In absences of necessary change to undo suffering, medical personnel must participate in state executions to ensure inmates do not suffer unreasonably.  In this controversial case between the AMA and federal protocols, denying inmates as patients by leaving them to suffer unnecessary is seen as more inhumane. Carlos Musso, a doctor who participated in state execution, says, “When we have a patient who can no longer survive his illness, we as physicians must ensure he has comfort.” (Gawande) We must encourage more medical personnel like Carlos to participate in state executions, if inmates are just as human as any person with a terminal illness.

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