Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One of These Things is Not Like the Others...

This afternoon we admitted a patient for elective cardioversion. He has an arrhythmia, and rather than taking medications to control his heart rate and rhythm the rest of his life, he'd rather us just shock him back into a regular rhythm. He had this done successfully back in 2002, and basically just wants a repeat performance.

While I was belaboring over a beautifully eloquent admission note (yeah, right!) it occurred to me how fine the line of the law is. For instance, why can this dude choose and schedule to have voltage sent through his heart when execution via the electric chair raises so much protest? How bad can it be if this guy's doing it again? Granted, his voltage will be considerably less, but similar concept, no? Why can't we just sedate our inmates and then zap 'em? It seems a lot less painful than what poor Gram and Gramps go through when their pacemaker starts malfunctioning and zapping them erratically.

A similar comparison could be made for lethal injection. When someone comes in with an extremely rapid heart rate, we slam them with a medication that stops their heart. The effects last for just a few seconds, but this is sometimes done without any premedication, and I've been told it hurts like Hell. Why is this behavior kosher, while lethal injection is being labeled as inhumane?

I suppose when one analyzes it further, what makes it "good" or "bad" is the intent behind the action and whether or not it's agreeable to the recipient. If Mr. X stands to benefit from the treatment, and our specialists aren't acting outside of their "scope of practice", then it's all aboard for electricity and antiarrhythmics. What if death row inmates got to choose from a variety of options? Would that make it more humane?

I don't believe that the death penalty is a deterrent for crime, but I think it's silly to house anyone for the entirety of their life. It just seems like such a waste of space and resources to me. I've heard arguments that life sentences are a greater punishment, but if we're really looking to punish people as severely as possible, then I think you have to forget about the whole humane argument.

And now that I have probably offended my handful of loyal readers, let the silence begin...

8 comments:

~~Silk said...

I am amused by the people who insist that prison and execution exist not for punishment, but only to protect society. Those are the same people who will agitate for the death sentence for an emotionally desperate woman who kills her children. There they argue for punishment. I guess because the "protect society" bit doesn't work in that case.

ru said...

i've often wondered at the irony of sustaining a criminal's life when the news is full of stories every winter about an underfunded person who died in a cold apartment or a frosty street, etc.

ru said...

ryc: thanks. it must have been the nose candy.

ru said...

ryc: thanks. it must have been the nose candy.

nameless said...

That's realy very interesting!! But you're an american so that just makes you retarded

nameless said...

That's very interesting, realy!! But you're an american...that just makes you stupi d!

Anonymous said...

that's very interesting...but you're an american so that ruins it all

Kate said...

Here's to anonymity, the international tool of dullards!