Shamed Again - Another Botched Execution in Ohio
By Jonathan I. Groner MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, OSU
May 25, 2007
After the botched execution of Joseph Clark in May, 2006, a thorough review of Ohio's lethal injection protocol was performed. On June 27, 2006, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Terry Collins wrote a letter to Governor Taft describing several "refinements" to the lethal injection protocol and stating that "Our goal is to always complete the process in a professional and dignified manner for all parties."
Today, barely a year later, the State of Ohio took even longer to execute Mr. Newton than it took to execute Mr. Clark. The "medical team" spent over an hour prodding Mr. Newton's arms and legs with needles in at least 10 different locations before intravenous access was obtained. The entire procedure took nearly two hours, so long that Mr. Newton required a bathroom break. He was declared dead nearly two hours after the procedure began.
Why did all of the "refinements" fail? Because lethal injection is based on medical technology and therefore requires medical expertise. IV access problems occur every day in hospitals, but there are skilled medical professionals available in hospitals to help out. In difficult patients, sometimes sophisticated IV access procedures are performed by physicians.
But if physicians were to assist with an execution, they would be violating fundamental principles of medical ethics. Thus, lethal injection is inherently flawed. Performing a lethal injection without medical professionals (such as physicians) can cause torture, but performing it with physicians is unethical. Therefore, no amount of "refinement" can fix Ohio's execution technique.
Today's execution was both unprofessional and undignified. Future executions are likely to be botched as well. It is time for Governor Strickland to call for a moratorium on capital punishment in Ohio.
Jonathan I. Groner MD
Trauma Medical Director, Children's Hospital
Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
700 Children's Drive
Columbus, OH 43205