Some executed US prisoners may have suffocated

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 03 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:920
  1. Anne Harding
  1. New Jersey

    Condemned prisoners who are killed by lethal injection may often suffocate while still conscious and be aware of what is happening to them, shows a new analysis of data on US executions. The analysis provides new evidence that the punishment may be cruel and unusual and thus unconstitutional.

    This is likely to be what occurred in the botched 2006 execution of Angel Diaz, write Teresa Zimmers of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and colleagues (PLoS Medicine 2007;4:e156).

    Mr Diaz, who took 34 minutes to die while wincing, shuddering, and gasping for air, was later found to have 30 cm burns on both antecubital fossae. Florida's medical examiner concluded that the drugs had been …

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