By Ruchi Ahuja
On this much experts agree: Properly administered, the 3 drugs used for lethal injections cause a humane, pain-free death.
"If you were going to kill me, that am the way I would want it," are the wording of the culprit. The problem comes if the initial drug given to put the inmate to sleep, sodium thiopental, is administered improperly or in too low a dose. If so, the 2 next drugs could lead to a painful death.
The second drug, a muscle relaxant called pancuronium bromide, paralyzes the body's muscle system but does not affect the senses. The final drug, potassium chloride, stops the heart. If improperly sedated, the inmate could be in terrible pain for seconds, even minutes, and unable to move -- what's been called a "chemical tomb."
A growing number of health officials are asking why the muscle relaxant is needed at all. Health officials say it's included to prevent violent spasms that are a typical byproduct of the third drug and the cardiac arrest it induces.
The inmate, if properly sedated by the first drug, does not feel any such spasms, though they can be quite disturbing for witnesses.
"There's no need to use any sort of drug that paralyzes muscles"
"It is only something that is given for the comfort of the witnesses. That's not a valid justification, and I've never been able to understand why they gave it."
But here is the defensive side of the point,
"Our medical staff assures us that the order and dosage of the drugs we use prevents any undue suffering to the condemned inmate while the execution is carried out
Other options could include doing away with the muscle relaxant and subjecting witnesses to watching any muscle spasms. Another possibility is switching to the method commonly used in animal euthanasia, a single dose of a barbiturate more powerful than the sodium thiopental
Even at its 3-gram dosage, sodium thiopental would likely be fatal for all but the largest of people. Just one-tenth of that amount of a very similar drug is used .
But using a barbiturate alone would prolong death because it would take longer for the heart to stop. Most executions are over in about seven minutes.
Volunteers with some medical training deliver lethal injections during executions, not medical staff,
Several times, executioners have had difficulty finding a vein to insert the needle, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty advocacy group.
A doctor, who has witnessed many of the 313 executions since it began using lethal injection, has reported that prisoners have remarked about tingling, a cool sensation or tasting rubber just before the normal reaction to the drugs: a gasp, wheeze, sputter or cough. Once, an inmate vomited, but to witnesses there had been no apparent indication of pain.
So what does it indicates?
Lethal injections are acting as a humane or it is just another way of getting executed.
These are the questions which only time will be answering.