US execution drugs harm breathing, heart function

by The Associated Press

Oklahoma changed its execution protocols twice this year. State officials have five options for lethal injections, including a new three-drug mixture. That combination was used for the first time Tuesday, resulting in a botched execution that left an inmate writhing and clenching his teeth, leading prison officials to halt the proceedings before his eventual death from a heart attack.

Two of the drugs used carry warnings that they can suppress the , and the third warns that cardiac trouble can occur with high but non-lethal doses and lists specific steps to take if a patient receives too much of the drug but doesn't die.

MIDAZOLAM (sedative)

Warning labels that accompany packages of midazolam say intravenous use of the drug has been associated with respiratory suppression or . Monitoring is required in case there is a need to intervene with life-saving medical treatment. Overdoses can result in a slow heart rate.

VECURONIUM BROMIDE (paralytic)

The package labeling warns that means of providing artificial respiration and oxygen therapy should be available when patients are given vercuronium, which is often used to relax muscles for intubation or during surgery. Respiration "insufficiency" is listed as a possible adverse reaction.

POTASSIUM CHLORIDE (stops heart)

The labels include strong warnings that must be given at a slow, controlled rate when administered for the treatment of a potassium deficiency. At higher doses, the drug stops the heart. For non-lethal higher doses, says to discontinue the infusion immediately and use injections of dextrose and insulin, absorb excess potassium and engage in dialysis. Respiratory paralysis is also possible. Medical literature at the National Institutes of Health says potassium intoxication can cause cardiac arrest and that EKG abnormalities can illustrate trouble.

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Determine patient preferences by means of conjoint analysis

Jul 29, 2014

The Conjoint Analysis (CA) method is in principle suitable to find out which preferences patients have regarding treatment goals. However, to widely use it in health economic evaluations, some (primarily methodological) issues ...

FDA approves hard-to-abuse narcotic painkiller

Jul 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—A new formulation of a powerful narcotic painkiller that discourages potential abusers from snorting or injecting the drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Race affects opioid selection for cancer pain

Jul 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Racial disparities exist in the type of opioid prescribed for cancer pain, according to a study published online July 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

FDA approves tough-to-abuse formulation of oxycodone

Jul 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Targiniq ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride extended release) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a long-term, around-the-clock treatment for severe ...

User comments