March 09, 2005

Just thinkin'

So, if the Supreme Court overturns the 9th circuit in Gonzales v. Oregon, what happens next? Would that ruling effectively kill (pardon the pun) Oregon's Death With Dignity Act?

Could Oregon physicians help people commit suicide without using controlled substances? Could they just inject people with potassium chloride without premedicating them with sedatives? Would that be humane?

Are there any sedative drugs not under the control of John Ashcroft and his successor, Alberto Gonzales? Just wondering...

Posted by Carey at March 9, 2005 09:33 PM

You're the doctor. Don't you know which sedatives are regulated?

Posted by: Heidi at March 9, 2005 09:43 PM

Sorry. That takes a lawyer. And I'm only a law student.

Or a pharmacologist. Any pharmacologists out there?

Posted by: Carey at March 9, 2005 09:46 PM

Well, there's carbon monoxide - while not a sedative per se, it will cause unconsciousness.

Nitrous oxide is available in whipped cream.

Lidocaine is not a controlled substance, and can be given intravenously prior to injection of potassium as an anesthetic; we use it for that purpose now when giving KCL via peripheral cath.

Just three quick ideas off the top of my head.

Posted by: alwin at March 9, 2005 11:50 PM

Alwin, those are some interesting ideas. Carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide might work, but lidocaine seems a bit too local. Isn't the point of sedation before KCl to prevent the discomfort associated with the arrythmias that result? Honestly, I don't know. What do they do for lethal injections in capital punishment?

I'm not trying to give the Supreme Court any wiggle room to argue that the Ashcroft Directive preserves states' rights, mind you...

Posted by: Carey at March 12, 2005 08:54 PM