The Science of Euthanasia

The Crosier

Amy Ahn
Philadelphia University
Class of 2015; Architecture

Lethal injection is a term people immediately relate to execution of criminals. First adopted in 1977, lethal injection quickly became the primary means of capital punishment in the United States, and was thought of as “a more humane” method of execution.

Lethal injection consists of a series of drugs, administered in a particular order. First is sodium thiopental (Pentothal), an anesthetic which induces deep sleep within thirty seconds. In surgery, patients are typically dosed 100-150 milligrams. In terms of lethal injection, as much as 5,000 milligrams is administered. A saline solution flushes the IV line, followed by pancuronium bromide (Pavulon), which is a paralyzing agent. It relaxes muscles to the point that the diaphragm and lungs can no longer function. This drug, given in a dose up to 100 milligrams, takes about 1-3 minutes to go into effect. This is a stark…

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