Anesthesiologist Group To Decertify Physicians Who Help With Lethal Injections

Provided by Kaiser Health News.

Lethal Injection TableThe American Board of Anesthesiologists “has quietly decided to revoke the certification of any member who participates in executing a prisoner by lethal injection,” according to The Washington Post.

The decision “reflects its leaders’ belief that ‘we are healers, not executioners,’ board secretary Mark A. Rockoff said. Although the American Medical Association has long opposed doctor involvement, the anesthesiologists’ group 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, including Virginia and North Carolina, require a doctor to be present.”

But supporters of capital punishment argue that “doctors are not needed during the procedures, which can be administered by prison employees. … With 3,200 prisoners now on death rows across the country, most of the 50 executions performed each year since 2008 have used lethal injections.” Members of the ABA learned about the new rule in February, and so far, “no doctors have been disciplined, Rockoff said” (Stein, 5/2).

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

This entry was posted in Anesthesiology, Health Care Policy, Medical. Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to “Anesthesiologist Group To Decertify Physicians Who Help With Lethal Injections”

  1. MedMan says:

    That’s bull crap. They can’t dictate what a doctor can do within the bounds of the law. I hope they are adding anesthesiologists who participate in abortions to their list.

  2. Nina says:

    Whoever participated in forming that law should have their license revoked. Agree or disagree doctors can make their own decisions. This is a huge problem with committees and groups in general.

  3. mmmcdowe says:

    What’s the point of specialty oversight if they can’t actually police themselves? Doctors get their licenses revoked all the time for behavior that is deemed outside the ethics of medicine. I withhold judgment on their decision, but I do acknowledge their right to do so.

  4. Paul says:

    We expect doctors be punished for other unethical behavior; why not punish them for this?

  5. Duster says:

    How is it unethical to have a physician there to make sure that it is done properly? Would you rather have someone botch the execution and the convict die an incredibly painful death? One way or another, they’ll still be done, but it would be more ethical to make sure they were done correctly.

  6. ahowardmd says:

    I agree with this. All physicians take an oath to do no harm, do they not? This would include executions, abortions, etc. Besides, lethal injection is just an expensive, politically correct way to kill people. They should go back to hanging anyway; cheap and effective.

  7. MM says:

    Physicians take an oath not to harm, and the ABA has the right to withdraw the certification they bestowed if that is violated. However, if they are going to step in on adult executions then they need to quit being PC and do the same for abortions as well. Dont be half-as$ed about it.

  8. MedMan says:

    I would agree with a motion to prohibit doctors from participating in executions if it weren’t for the fact that abortions are considered by the AMA, medical ethical committees, ABA, etc. as COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE. To me this demonstrates the fact that the ABA is simply trying to push their political agenda, nothing more.

  9. Forven says:

    Those who are being executed present a danger to the public, as they are most likely murderers. Therefore physicians who oversee these executions ARE protecting life, by ending the lives of those who seeks to end the lives of others.

  10. Tyler says:

    They don’t have to worry about anesthesiologists performing abortions you retards because anesthesiologists DONT PERFORM ABORTIONS. Thats usually OB/Gyn etc.

  11. MedMan says:

    Tyler: Anesthesia sedation is offered at most abortion clinics. Ob/Gyn docs usually perform the procedure itself but there are MANY abortions performed every year that anesthesiologist participate in by providing sedation.

  12. John says:

    This is wrong. This group is simply using its power to enforce its political beliefs. This really does disgust me, way to abuse your power, assholes.

  13. James says:

    The ABA does not have the right to dictate the practice of doctors if it is within the law. Specialty boards are in the business of ensuring competency, not ethics. Leave the ethical issues the state medical boards which oversees all doctors.

  14. wally says:

    why don’t they just use the electric chair?

  15. jay says:

    I see a lot of comments about how the ABA allows its anesthesiologists to help in abortions but not executions. This is VERY true. Let’s see, we have A.) A person who helps rid the world of a child-molesting, baby-strangling pedophile and he gets his license revoked. Then we have B.) A person who helps an OB GYN snuff out an innocent baby by vacuuming it out of the womb and the person does NOT have their license revoked, but eventually gets a pay increase down the road. Such priorities we have as a society. What a piece of shit country.

  16. donoharm says:

    do no harm

  17. Goodforthem says:

    Good for them… I hope all specialty boards adopt this policy…

    With regards to abortions, if the fetus cannot live outside the mother’s uterus then it is a fetus NOT a baby and therefore does NOT have life regardless of how “fast” the heart “beats”…. Just to let you know, you can take a heart outside of the body and it will beat for hours or you can attach it to a machine and it will beat for decades long after the patient is dead… so heart beat is NOT a defining feature of life the same way kidney’s filteration of urine is NOT a defining feature of life…

    Now if you are interested in stoping abortions, start contributing to science instead of churches, so science can advance to a level where we can save all fetuses at all stages of development outside the mother’s uterus then I’ll be 100% with you outlawing voluntary abortions. Nobody should be forced to give up their bodies for 9-months just because some a**hole in a robe with a funny hat who never has to do that said so…

    By the way, what about the 13 year old who was raped by her dad, should she not be able to get an abortion either and if it’s OK for her why not others (some food for thought)!

  18. Badforthem says:

    Godforthem, you are honestly afflicted by some sort of mental defect if you truly believe that abortion is any less unethical than execution.

    I personally am not too big on either capital punishment or abortion, but I am pro-choice anyway. I don’t like capital punishment for a bunch of reasons, however I’m not going to take away the livelyhood of a bunch of doctors just because they were doing work within the law.

  19. MedMan says:

    Goodforthem: So anything that can’t survive on its own doesn’t deserve to live? A baby can’t survive on its own outside the uterus for several years. Are we saying it’s ok to kill a 6 month old? What about an infant on a ventilator? Since it can’t survive without a ventilator is it ok to end its life prematurely? What about someone with type 1 diabetes? Since they can’t survive without insulin, can we kill them too? Please explain this logic, it’s really confusing to me.

  20. MedMan says:

    Goodforthem: And by the way, people aren’t against abortion because someone in a “robe and funny hat” is telling them to be against it. People are against abortion because it ends a life. You don’t have to be religious to understand why that isn’t the right thing to do.

  21. Goodforthem says:

    MedMan: Obviously you didn’t read my entire post. All of the examples you are using are patients that current medical technology allows saving. We have insulin, we have ventilators and baby formula to feed the 6 month old. However if we didn’t have them we certainly wouldn’t FORCE other humans to give up their bodies to keep those patients alive. But in case of a fetus the anti-abortion crowds want to force the mother to give up her body for 9-months. If you can come up with a device that can save a fetus under 20 weeks of gestation then I’ll be the first one to protest against abortion, but currently it doesn’t exist and it is immoral to force a woman to give up her body for 9-months because of religious reasons.

    So again, if you want to stop abortions contribute to science instead of churches!

  22. MedMan says:

    Goodforthem: So what if a woman decides 6 months after having a baby that she no longer wants to sacrifice her time, money, health, physical resources, etc. to keeping that baby alive. Why doesn’t the law allow her to put that baby in the dumpster? Why do we force her to make the necessary sacrifices it takes to care for that child until that child can take care of itself?

    You might argue that she made the decision to have a baby, she therefore needs to take care of it. Well, the vast majority of abortions that are performed in this country are done so by women that made a voluntary decision to have sexual intercourse (often unprotected) and they knew beforehand that their actions would likely result in the conception of a human life. Explain to me how requiring someone to care for the human life that they created for 9 months of pregnancy is any different than requiring a mother to care for her 6 month old child if she later decides that she doesn’t want to give up the money that SHE earned and HER time and HER resources. They aren’t the babies, they are HERS so explain why she should be forced to give those resources up if she doesn’t want a 6 month old child anymore.

  23. MDish says:

    Everyone comparing this to abortions are missing the crucial point that a fetus is not a person – in the eye of the law – and an abortion does not result in the death of a person. You can argue the morality all you want, but that’s the fact in terms of U.S. law.
    In the case of the death penalty a lethal injection is ending the life (albeit legally) of a person. The difference is clear from the health-care perspective.

  24. MedMan says:

    MDish: If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that we should look at abortion from a legal perspective (and not a health-care/moral perspective) but we should look at capital punishment from a health-care/moral perspective (and not a legal perspective)??? Seems like a double-standard to me.

  25. MM says:

    Goodforthem: Abortion is essentially the termination of a life because it is an inconvenience to whoever is responsible. Yes there are some instances where it may be medically necessary to save the mother’s life, and there are cases of rape resulting in pregnancies. But these are outliers and the VAST majority of abortions are done by perfectly healthy individuals who dont want the inconvenience of a child at that particular time. Even the poorest, most uneducated people know that sex makes babies. If you wanna play, sometimes you gotta pay. Abortion is the voluntary termination of another human life, regardless of whether or not those little eyes have seen daylight yet. Anesthesiologists often participate in them. The whole point people are trying to make is that this is nothing more than two-faced politics by the ABA. They should decertify for ANY acts of harm, or keep their hands out of ethical matters.

  26. A Girl says:

    MedMan: Why is it always a man telling women what they should or shouldn’t do with their bodies?

  27. MedMan says:

    A Girl: A man should have just as much say in the matter as a woman since as far as I’m aware, a man has been involved in every single pregnancy that has ever taken place since the beginning of humankind. Exactly 50% of a fetus’ chromosomes come from dad yet how often does the law require the consent of the father when an abortion is being considered? A woman owns her body, she does not own her children or any children yet to be born living within her womb. I own my house but it doesn’t mean I can kill anyone who walks through the door.

  28. MedMan says:

    A Girl: And besides, I could find a woman for every man who is against abortion, so don’t try to pull that bull crap. Pro-life isn’t about men telling women what they can do with their bodies.

  29. MedMan says:

    A Girl: And besides, for every man against abortion there is a woman against abortion so don’t try to pull that BS. Abortion isn’t about men telling women what they can do with their bodies.

  30. MedMan says:

    Sorry about the double post there, the first one didn’t show up for a few minutes so I thought it wasn’t submitted

  31. MDish says:

    MedMan – I’m saying abortion is a medical procedure. Killing a physically healthy person via lethal injection is not.

    I’m not necessarily opposed to the death penalty, I just don’t think doctors need to be involved. Why not just shoot them in the head with a large caliber gun? That seems like the quickest and most surefire way of killing someone, and doesn’t require a doctor to make sure it’s done right. Lethal injection is more for the ‘audience’ at the execution – no visible struggling, blood, etc. makes it easier to watch….

  32. MedMan says:

    MDish: Abortion is the killing of a viable, innocent human being by a health care professional. Lethal injection is the killing of a viable, guilty human being by a health care professional. Since both procedures are properly administered by a health care professional, they are both considered medical procedures.

    I’d be all for bringing back the firing squad myself, however, some argue that it isn’t the most humane way to end someones life and so the law requires lethal injection. If the law is going to require health care professionals to be involved in lethal injection, then anesthesia groups can’t punish a physician for obeying the law, ESPECIALLY if they are going to turn their heads to abortion. That’s the only point I’m trying to make here.

  33. MDish says:

    MedMan – That’s a matter of opinion. However, in the eyes of the law, and in the opinion of many, an abortion is not the killing of a human.

  34. MedMan says:

    MDish: Well, from a logical perspective, and in the opinion of many, anything with arms, legs, fingers, toes, lungs, a beating heart, a functioning brain and nervous system, etc. is a human being and abortion for the sake of convenience is murder.

    If you think abortion is ok, that’s your moral opinion. Likewise, if you think it isn’t ethically sound for a doctor to perform lethal injections, that is your moral opinion. If we are going to take morals completely out of the equation and just use what the law defines as acceptable, then there is no difference between abortion and lethal injection since they are both legal.

    If, however, you are going to argue that there is something ethically wrong with a doctor performing a lethal injection (even though it’s legal) then those same standards should be applied to abortion since there are many who believe that a doctor performing an abortion is a moral conflict of an even greater magnitude than a doctor who performs lethal injections.

  35. MedMan says:

    The bottom line is, the ABA’s decision to take a stance against lethal injection didn’t have anything to do with the legality of lethal injections. That decision was made because the ABA believes that doctors performing lethal injection is morally wrong, which is nothing more than a matter of personal/political/moral opinion.

    Abortion is no different. You may believe that there is nothing morally wrong with abortion so there is no reason for the ABA to be against it, but that is a matter of opinion. Abortion is a practice considered by many to be morally wrong and is illegal in several countries around the world. Many people even equate abortion with murder. The fact that it is legal in this country boils down to a very arbitrary line that the law has drawn defining the point at which life begins. So if the ABA is going to decertify a physician for doing something that is legal but could be considered morally objectionable, then there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t apply the same standard to docs who participate in abortion since abortion is likewise a legal practice but the morality of it is highly objectionable by many.

    I’m done beating this horse to death.

  36. MDish says:

    I’m done too, I’ll leave it at this; my main point is that an abortion is a medical procedure, and capital punishment is not, so that they really can’t be compared in this case, even though they are both legal. That’s the difference as far as looking at it from the perspective of a medical organization. That’s my stance, you have yours, we’ll leave it at that.

  37. airborne says:

    Instead of lethal injection, we should just use abortion on these individuals. Why not create a uterus that could fit an adult (or just use octo-moms), implant the prisoner, and then pull them out with large forceps, while mangling their body to shreds; we can then use vacuum aspiration to remove any chunks of their body that remain.

    If the convict raped and murdered 3 girls, they obviously have no heart. If they have no heart, they shouldn’t qualify as living. If they don’t qualify as living, they should qualify for an abortion.

  38. Badforthem says:

    Hi, I’d just like to point out that there is a lack of reading comprehension ability among the commenters. This is an article on doctors having their right to practice revoked for participating in the administering of lethal injections to death row inmates.

  39. The American Board of Anesthesiologists should make a double take on its decision. A convict who is going to be executed with a lethal injection has every right to receive it from a qualified personnel. I am a physical therapist (Dallas, Tx) and if I were ask to rehabilitate a patient before his execution, I would. It doesn’t mean that because they are going to be executed that they should not receive the treatment and “rights” of ordinary men and women.

  40. NP says:

    The ABA is hypocritcial. Its certification process is suspect at best. Now it wants to regulate physician behavior while it allows the butchering of babies. Once again, the certification process of anesthesiologists needs to be reexamined.

  41. JKHamlin says:

    These people have their ethics mixed up. ALL medical associations should decertify doctors who perform abortions.

  42. Joe says:

    Executions involve the ending of the life of a legally defined person. Furthermore, we can make simple and powerful arguments against it both on how it is implemented, and on the risk for wrongful execution.

    Abortion is the decision of an expecant mother to terminate a pregnancy. This is NOT the same ethically, morally, or legally. Furthermore, we can even make strong arguments in favor of keeping abortion legal EVEN IF WE GRANT LEGAL PERSON STATUS TO A FETUS. No person can force another person to put their heath, life, or even comfort at great risk on their behalf without the consent of the person taking said risk. Pregnancy is risky, period. Therefore, it is up to the person taking the risk of pregnancy to decide whether they wish to proceede or not.

    Befor you use short sighted thinking along the lines of they made that choice when they had sex, consider the implications of analogous situations. We know the risks of driving, but do we refuse medical care to car accident victims? We know the risks of drinking, but do we refuse medical care in cases of alcohol poisoning? We know the risks of drug addiction and relapse rates, but do refuse rehab to drug addicts?

    Mind your own damn business about people’s family planning. It’s not analogous to capital punishment. To say so is blatantly ignorant.

  43. answer me this says:

    Answer me this.

    What is it called when someone intentionally does something to another human being so that they are no longer alive?

    My answer to that question is: It is called murder.

    Yet when you take the word “someone” and replace it with “trained professional”, and then take the words “does something” and replace it with the words “lethally anesthetizes” and then replace “another human being” with “a death-row inmate” you get the following:

    What is it called when a trained professional intentially lethally anesthetizes a death-row inmate so that they are no longer alive?

    My answer to that question is: It is called murder. They are lucky that all they are getting revoked is their certifications. It works the same if you replace those words with anyone, prison employee, another prisoner, etc. It still works out to the same answer. The recipient of the injection is no longer alive because of the action of the injector. That’s murder, plain and simple.