At Florida lethal injections, a man in a purple moon suit leans over the dying inmate to listen for a heartbeat and feel for a pulse. Then he nods and an announcement is made to the witnesses that the execution has been completed, reports the Associated Press. The man is a doctor and the attire shields his identity not just from witnesses but from the American Medical Association. Its code of ethics bars members from participating in executions, as do those of the American Nurses Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the Florida Medical Association.
Despite those codes, Florida will ask a judge next week to approve its plan to add more doctors, nurses, phlebotomists (people trained to draw blood) and other medical professionals to its lethal injection teams – something that’s done in other states. Experts say Florida is the only state that uses a moon suit to shield the doctor’s identity – although some others draw curtains or remove the execution witnesses before the doctor emerges. The plastic moon suit, similar to those worn by hazardous materials teams, covers the doctor completely from head to toe. Goggles worn beneath the clear plastic face shield conceals the doctor’s identity even further. “It is part of the role of a physician, helping people, preserving life and maintaining the trust and respect of the people we serve,” said an AMA official. “We do not feel killing people is appropriate in that context.” The state says the plan’s goal is to ensure “a dignified and humane death” for the 381 men now awaiting execution..