The same doctor who was banned from executions in Missouri has been discovered as a participant in Arizona’s most recent execution. Dr. Alan Doerhoff’s signature was at the bottom of the EKG tape for Robert Comer, who was executed in 2007. Eight months earlier, Dr. Doerhoff was prohibited from participating in further Missouri executions because of questions about his standards and competence. Doerhoff had assisted in more than 54 executions in Missouri, developed procedures, inserted catheters, and monitored prisoners’ consciousness in federal executions carried out in Indiana. According to 2006 court records, he admitted under oath to being dyslexic, that “he ‘improvised’ the dosages of the drugs (partly because of how conveniently or inconveniently they were packaged), had no set protocol and kept no records of procedures.” The hearing’s judge prohibited Doerhoff from participating “in any manner, at any level” in Missouri’s lethal-injection process. Prior to this ruling, Doerhoff had been sued for malpractice 20 times, paid several settlements, and was officially reprimanded by the Missouri Board of Healing Arts for not disclosing malpractice suits to a hospital where he practiced. He was subsequently barred from practicing in some hospitals.

The techniques that Doerhoff developed appear to have influenced Arizona’s new execution procedures, including a complex practice of administering the lethal chemicals through a catheter in the groin instead of an arm, possibly leading to higher risks of error and undue suffering. Such a technique appears to be unique to jurisdictions where Doerhoff participated in executions. When the Arizona Department of Corrections was questioned about Doerhoff’s participation, they denied any association with the doctor. When media representatives showed proof of Doerhoff’s signature on the execution documents, the Corrections officials cited statutes that protect the identity of Arizona executioners. Arizona is still fighting petitions in court to reveal information about their execution staff. Experts say that Doerhoff techniques are overly complex and prone to error. Despite being prohibited from participating in Missouri executions, Dr. Doerhoff is still legally permitted to participate and influence other state and federal executions.
(M. Kiefer, “Doctor banned from executions in Mo. now in Ariz.,” The Arizona Republic, July 24, 2008). See Executions.