Inmates put to death by lethal injection are supposed to die quickly and painlessly, but they actually might suffocate aware and in agony, a team of researchers concluded in a study released Monday. In the report in the online publication “PloS Medicine,” the eight-member team said the lethal drug combination used by dozens of states is flawed because the mixture doesn’t necessarily work as intended, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The lead author said the study provides evidence that the procedure is “anything but” a humane medical procedure. Under the lethal-injection protocol, three drugs are meant to work in combination to render inmates unconscious and then cause death by respiratory and cardiac arrest. Each drug is also supposed to be lethal on its own. But the researchers, who analyzed drug dosages and the time between injection and death in 42 executions in North Carolina and eight in California, found that the first and third drugs did not always work properly.