Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Legal assisted suicide which failed

The Oregon Board of Pharmacy has not yet issued its report on why
a man in Oregon in March was given 9 grams of Seconal, in liquid form, --- under the state's assisted suicide law -- but woke up 3 days later. (Robert Pruitt, 42, lung cancer. He died naturally three weeks later, according to newspaper reports.)

Unofficially, I am told that this was the problem:

The man sipped the lethal drink and complained that it was too bitter. His wife suggested that he first take some Lactalose which is very sweet.
( Lactulose is a synthetic sugar used to treat constipation. It is broken down in the colon into products that pull water out from the body and into the colon. This water softens stools. Lactulose is also used to reduce the amount of ammonia in the blood of patients with liver disease. It works by drawing ammonia from the blood into the colon where it is removed from the body.)
The theory of why the man did not die from the Seconal overdose is that probably the Lactulose coated his stomach and the drug largely passed through his system, putting him to sleep but insufficiently to end life.
Seems to be something we should know.

--------Derek Humphry, Oregon, author of 'Final Exit'.

A distinguished anesthesiologist who is long-standing member of our NuTech group (New Technology in Self-Deliverance) makes the following comment about the above case in Oregon:-

"There may be a consideration other than lactulose which could have
caused the patient of current interest to wake up. That is, he
might have been barbiturate-tolerant. A few patients are very
tolerant and capable of recovery from very large doses. In current
hastened dying practices, we should expect an occasional failure
because of high patient tolerance alone. Nearly always, nine grams of Seconal is more than sufficient. but not necessarily in a full 100% of cases.

"Another consideration is: In the case of current interest, can we be certain that a full nine grams of Seconal was actually ingested?
Evidently, the patient objected to the bitter taste of the
medication; lactulose was added to improve palatability. Was any of
the medication spilled, or spit out, or not ingested because some of
it clung to the surfaces of the vessel from which the mixture was

"It will be interesting to hear what the Oregon Board of Pharmacy has to say."

(Name of this medical professional known to, and withheld) D H)
Posted 23 August 2005


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