Mo. Execution Doctor Had History of Errors

Monday, July 31, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo., July 30 -- A doctor who oversaw dozens of Missouri executions until his questionable practices led a judge to suspend executions in the state has been sued for malpractice more than 20 times and has a history of making medical mistakes, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday.

Alan R. Doerhoff, 62, also has been banned from at least two Missouri hospitals and was publicly reprimanded by the state's Board of Healing Arts in 2003 because he was trying to conceal malpractice claims from hospitals where he was working, the newspaper reported.

The state attorney general's office was aware of the reprimand, but the state Department of Corrections continued to employ Doerhoff to handle lethal injections, the Post-Dispatch said.

Doerhoff, who had already supervised 48 executions, supervised six more after the reprimand, the newspaper reported. The inmate who would have been the seventh -- Michael A. Taylor, who raped and murdered a teenager in Kansas City in 1989 -- appealed earlier this year.

The state tried to keep Doerhoff's identity a secret in the appeal by Taylor, who said the heart-stopping drug given in lethal injections can cause excruciating pain if the inmate is not first given proper levels of anesthesia.

Lawyers reviewing execution logs found that the anesthesia Doerhoff had prepared for Taylor's execution before it was stayed in February was only half the amount it should have been, and records of previous executions indicated similar improperly prepared doses.

The doctor then admitted that he was dyslexic and sometimes transposed numbers.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan suspended executions until the state hires a board-certified anesthesiologist to ensure that the drugs in lethal injections are properly prepared.

The Post-Dispatch said that when a reporter approached Doerhoff at his home Thursday and asked about his role in executions, he replied, "Read my lips: I don't do them."

Then, the newspaper reported, Doerhoff shut the door.

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