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US monitor execution

21st July 2006

21072006_electric_chair1.jpgThere has been mounting pressure on some US states to make executions more "humane" has led to at least one prisoner being monitored with electroencephalography to prevent awareness while being put to death by lethal injection.

A new technology translates electroencephalograms into a simple numerical index indicating depth of anaesthesia. Use of the device is highly controversial.  Its performance in prisoners being executed by lethal injections of thiopental, pancuronium, and potassium is completely unknown and there is no evidence that the device, when used alone, is accurate enough to monitor awareness, even in surgical patients.

The manufacturers do not want their device used in executions and were unaware of its intended use. Using electroencephalography gives a spurious clinical appearance to executions.  One commentator states that "the concept of a humane execution could be considered an oxymoron. An execution is not a clinical procedure, and capital punishment is not the practice of medicine."

 



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Article Information

Title: US monitor execution
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 554
Date Added: 21st Jul 2006

Sources

BMJ News

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