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January 28, 2010

New report on the role of medical boards regulating doctor involvement in executions

A helpful reader alerted me to this new study of state ethical codes which concludes that doctors in most states need not fear professional discipline for participating in executions. Here is the study's abstract:

The recent increase in calls for physician participation in lethal injection executions is likely to place a spotlight on state medical boards, the only entities empowered to discipline doctors for ethical violations.  This article begins by recounting the history of physician participation in lethal injection executions, as well as the opposition of most medical professional organizations to the practice.  The current state of the law suggests, however, that the role of state medical boards is quite circumscribed, at least in the majority of states with death penalty statutes that appear to contemplate some level of physician participation in executions. In order to further determine the legality of medical board action, a comprehensive study was conducted of the statutes and regulations governing state medical boards in all 50 states.  The study reveals that only a handful of states – and only seven death-penalty states – explicitly incorporate the AMA’s ethical guidelines into their own state ethical codes. The study concludes by suggesting that, where doctors who participate in executions are doing so in order to relieve pain and suffering, it is not clear that a state medical board should intervene even in the rare instance when it would be legally possible to do so.

Some related posts on doctors and executions:

January 28, 2010 at 01:42 PM | Permalink


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The AMA is a quasi-governmental organization. Its actions can be as damaging to a doctor as those of a licensing board. It can put a doctor on trial, with lawyers and rules of procedure and evidence.

I suggest that a group of DP state Attorneys General get an injunction precluding retaliation against participating doctors by the AMA.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 28, 2010 10:18:46 PM

I am a student and this is a very very informative blog.

Posted by: laser varicose vein treatment | Mar 2, 2010 3:59:30 AM

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