Execution drugs harm breathing and heart function

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2014 at 6:29 am •  Published: April 30, 2014
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Oklahoma changed its execution protocols twice this year. State officials have five options for lethal injections, including a new three-drug mixture that was used for the first time Tuesday.

Two of the drugs used carry warnings that they can suppress the respiratory system, 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 respiratory arrest. 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.

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