I’ve been scouring the web looking for anything official on Georgia death penalty procedures. News outlets have been reporting that Troy Davis, a Georgia inmate scheduled to be executed tonight, underwent a physical exam before being transported to the killing chamber. I’ve already argued in the past that doctors have no place taking part in executions. At the time, doctors were coming under fire for assisting with lethal injections, pronouncing inmates dead after they’d been killed, and other “medicalized” tasks. But a physical exam? Let’s assume the news reports are correct and that this really happened. What’s the point?
A physical exam assess the health of a patient. I use physical exam data to guide in the prevention and treatment of disease. What possible use could there be to examining someone before you kill them? I frequently do “pre-operative” assessments in which surgeons ask me if the patient is healthy enough to undergo surgery.
Any physician who does a “pre-killing” exam and doesn’t state that “the procedure is too risky for the patient and should be cancelled” should lose their license.