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How a Hospital Made an Execution Possible

It didn't realize drug was for lethal injection: board member
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2014 6:25 AM CDT
How a Hospital Made an Execution Possible
A hospital supplied a lethal injection drug, apparently without realizing it.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A Louisiana hospital facilitated an execution—without realizing it was doing so, says a new report citing a board member who's also an appeals court judge. Short on execution drugs, the state opted to use a combination of hydromorphone and midazolam for a lethal injection, the Lens explains. Louisiana asked Lake Charles Memorial Hospital to supply the hydromorphone, which is also used to benefit patients in a clinical setting. "We assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was," board member Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux tells the Lens.

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When the hospital sends drugs to other institutions, "we never inquire into the purpose for it. We assume it's for legitimate and noble purposes," Thibodeaux notes. "Had we known of the real use, we never would have done it." The state had kept the identity of its supplier quiet, the Lens reports, in what an expert calls a growing national trend amid expanding opposition to the death penalty. Hydromorphone has been used in a number of recent prolonged executions, including that of Joseph Wood in Arizona last month, the Guardian notes. That execution took almost two hours; others in Oklahoma and Ohio took 43 minutes and almost 30 minutes. (Read more Louisiana stories.)

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