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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2012

49 - Physician participation in executions

from 6 - Anesthesiologists, the state, and society
Chemical dependence in the form of addiction is a chronic relapsing disease characterized by the overwhelming compulsion to use drugs in spite of adverse consequences. The practice of anesthesiology provides the setting for a susceptible host by offering an environment in which powerfully addictive drugs are immediately available for abuse. Addictive disease in the form of chemical dependency is present in all classes, cultures, and professions including healthcare professionals. A major occupational hazard of anesthesiologists is the development of addictive disease, which, in the light of the specialty's powerful drugs, often involves a rapidly progressive, life- and career-threatening pattern of behavior. Anesthesiologists have an ethical responsibility to be knowledgeable about addiction, to detect it in its earliest stages, and to support the treatment, rehabilitation, and eventually, if appropriate, reentry into the workplace of a recovering colleague.
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Clinical Ethics in Anesthesiology
  • Online ISBN: 9780511841361
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1 Farber, N.J., Aboff, B.M, Weiner, J., et al. (2001). Physicians’ willingness to participate in the process of lethal injection for capital punishment. Ann Intern Med, 135, 884–8.
2 Espy, M.W. and Smykla, J.O. (2003). Executions in the United States, 1608–1991: The Espy file. 2002. Retrieved from The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.
4 Levine, M. (1972). Personal communication quoted in Psychiatry and Ethics, New York. George Braziller, p324.
5* Gawande, A., Denno, D.W., Truog, R. and Waisel, D. (2008). Physicians and execution – highlights form a discussion of lethal injection. New Eng J Med, 385, 448–51.
6* Caplan, A.L. (2007). Should physicians participate in capital punishment?Mayo Clin Proc, 82(9), 1047–8.
7 Koniaris, L.G., Zimmers, T.A., Lubarsky, D.A., and Sheldon, J.P, (2005). Inadequate anaeshtesia in lethal injection for execution. Lancet, 365(9468), 1412–14.
8 Gawande, A. (2006). When law and ethics collide – why physicians participate in executions. New Eng J Med, 354, 1221–9.
9American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines on Euthanasia. June 2007.
10* Brody, H. and Wardlaw, M. (2008). Two gorillas in the death penalty room. Am J Bioethics, 8(10), 53–4.
11* Osofsky, M., Bandura, A., and Zimbardo, P. (2005). The role of moral disengagement in the execution process. Law Human Behav, 29(4), 371–93.
12 Caplan, A. L. (2007). Should physicians participate in capital punishment?Mayo Clin Proc, 82(9), 1074–8.
13 The Death Penalty Information Center.
14 Phillips, S. (2008). Race disparities in the capital of capital punishment. Houston Law Rev, 45(3), 807–40.
15 Radelet, M.L. and LaCock, T. (2009). Recent developments: do executions lower homicide rates? The views of leading criminologists. J Criminal Law Criminology, 99(2), 489–508.
16 In the Senate of the United States; 109th Congress, 1st Session. 2005. S1088. “Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005.”
17 Goldberg, M. (2003). The ‘closure’ myth. January 21, 2003.
18 The Death Penalty Information Center., accessed Feb 15, 2010.
19 Warren, M. (2004). Death, dissent, and diplomacy: the US death penalty as an obstacle to foreign relations. Wm and Mary Bill Rights J, 13, 309–38.
20 American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics. Opinion 2.06. Capital Punishment.
21 American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Statement on Physician Nonparticipation in Legally Authorized Executions. Approved by House of Delegates October 18, 2006.
22 Anesthesiologists and capital punishment; professional standing. February 2010, American Board of Anesthesiology. Raleigh, NC.

Further reading

Annas, G.J. (2008). Toxic tinkering – lethal injection execution and the Constitution. New Eng J Med, 359, 1512–18.
Freedman, A.M. and Halpern, A.L. (1996). The erosion of ethics and morality in medicine: physician participation in legal executions in the United States. NY Law Sch Rev, 41, 169–88.
Osofsky, M. and Osofsky, H. (2002). The psychological experience of security officers who work with executions. Psychiatry, 65(4), 358–70.
Ragon, S. (1994). A doctor’s dilemma: resolving the conflicts between physician participation in executions and the AMA’s code of medical ethics. U. Dayton Law Rev, 20, 997–1008.
Wilkinson, D.J. and Douglas, T. (2008). Consequentialism and the death penalty. Am J Bioethics, 8(10), 56–8.