Sunday, March 26, 2006

Med Ethics: Why Physicians Participate in Executions

NEJM has a great article this week talking about the conflict between political/legal requirement of physician assisted execution and the cornerstone ethics (and rather clear policies of the AMA, etc) of do no harm that prevents physicians from participating. The article also involves interviews with some medical professionals about why they participated with executions and bit of history about the only legal method of capital punishment, lethal injection.

"I have always regarded involvement in executions by physicians and nurses as wrong. The public has granted us extraordinary and exclusive dispensation to administer drugs to people, even to the point of unconsciousness, to put needles and tubes into their bodies, to do what would otherwise be considered assault, because we do so on their behalf — to save their lives and provide them comfort. To have the state take control of these skills for its purposes against a human being — for punishment — seems a dangerous perversion. Society has trusted us with powerful abilities, and the more willing we are to use these abilities against individual people, the more we risk that trust. The public may like executions, but no one likes executioners."
On a side note, it appears the only medical professional organization that does allow its members to participate in executions is the American Pharmaceutical Association. This, along with their continuined insistence on allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispensence Plan B, further demonstrates that pharmacists are not medical professionals. They're just people making more than minimum wage to count to 30 and put plastic labels on bottles.

1 comment:

michael said...

dude if i went to pharm school i would be making six figures by now