Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Nurse participation in legal executions: An ethics round-table discussion

Shields, Linda; Watson, Roger; Darbyshire, Philip; McKenna, Hugh; Williams, Ged; Hungerford, Catherine; Stanley, David; Ben-Sefer, Ellen; Benedict, Susan; Goodman, Benny; Draper, Peter; Anderson, Judith


Linda Shields

Philip Darbyshire

Hugh McKenna

Ged Williams

Catherine Hungerford

David Stanley

Ellen Ben-Sefer

Susan Benedict

Benny Goodman

Peter Draper

Judith Anderson


A paper was published in 2003 discussing the ethics of nurses participating in executions by inserting the intravenous line for lethal injections and providing care until death. This paper was circulated on an international email list of senior nurses and academics to engender discussion. From that discussion, several people agreed to contribute to a paper expressing their own thoughts and feelings about the ethics of nurses participating in executions in countries where capital punishment is legal. While a range of opinions were presented, these opinions fell into two main themes. The first of these included reflections on the philosophical obligations of nurses as caregivers who support those in times of great need, including condemned prisoners at the end of life. The second theme encompassed the notion that no nurse ever should participate in the active taking of life, in line with the codes of ethics of various nursing organisations. This range of opinions suggests the complexity of this issue and the need for further public discussion.


Shields, L., Watson, R., Darbyshire, P., McKenna, H., Williams, G., Hungerford, C., …Anderson, J. (2018). Nurse participation in legal executions: An ethics round-table discussion. Nursing Ethics, 25(7), 841-854.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 16, 2016
Publication Date Nov 1, 2018
Deposit Date Jan 10, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 10, 2017
Journal Nursing ethics
Print ISSN 0969-7330
Electronic ISSN 1477-0989
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 7
Pages 841-854
Keywords Capital punishment; Codes of ethics; End-of-life issues; Palliative care; Professional ethics
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article which has been accepted for future publication in: Nursing ethics.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations