Medical ethicist Art Caplan joined Boston Public Radio Wednesday for his regular segment, Ask the Ethicist. Caplan is the head of the division of medical ethics at NYU's Langone Medical Center, and the host of the Everyday Ethics podcast. Caplan talked about a Utah bill to bring back execution by firing squads; crowd-sourcing medical bills; Kraft singles getting the blessing of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and the odd circumstance of saving Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's life in the emergency room so he could be tried with the death penalty.

Questions below are paraphrased. Caplan's responses are edited where noted [...].

The Utah legislature is considering a bill that would re-institute capital punishment via firing squad. One of the reasons is that lethal injection drugs are running low. Does this seem reasonable?

We gotta be able to do better than firing squad. You know, the first invention to make capital punishment humane [was] guillotine. They thought, 'You know — putting people in the rack, and generally stabbing them [to death is bad].' [...] We're in this completely ridiculous situation where we can't make drugs that we know will work to let people be killed painlessly. We're reverting to things like the firing squad.

What outcome do you foresee if this bill passes?

I would give it maybe 30 seconds before there is a court challenge.

Speaking of the death penalty, some people find it ironic that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was given premium medical treatment — by trauma surgeon Dr. Stephen Odom — following the showdown in the Watertown boat. Now, the Justice Department is seeking the death penalty for his role in the Marathon Bombings. How do doctors decide how to treat patients?

It's a tough dilemma but medical ethics demands you do what [Odom] did. You don't make decisions about the worthiness of your patient, even when they're evil people, awful people. Even in combat [you don't]. We take care of you if you are injured and you are before us.

So a doctor never factors in whether the person they're treating could be a criminal.

The goal of the doctor is very simple: do what you need to do, what's best for the patient. [...] You try to maintain routine. It is deviation from routine that ends up being the most risky [situation].

When Tsarnaev was brought to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after he was captured, Dr. Odom said there were lots of law enforcement and media that did, too. Who decides who gets to talk to, or about, the patient?

Any institution that has the ability to have a press officer is gonna have a lock-down on what you can say. You're not supposed to talk to anybody when there's a celebrity, or someone notorious, coming in. [...] But it always leaks out. It always does.

In The Atlantic, reporter Cari Romm wrote about Akiva and Amanda Zablocki. The Zablockis turned to crowdfunding to pay for their son's very expensive medical bills. Do you see crowdfunding as the answer to soaring medical bills?

Begging in public is no way for a humane society — presumably this one — to deal with kids. I mean, really, we're going to tell kids' parents to go out and beg? That's it, that's what we got? I think every kid should be covered to the max.

There could also be problems with fraud.

The internet is about as honest as it is for date sites. You don't know who's out there! [...] There's no check, there's no recourse. You don't have to give, but you can certainly be duped. [...] I don't begrudge a family doing what they need to do [but] that's not a "kid," that's a contest. [...] Our interest level for that sort of thing rapidly diminishes.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is giving the imprimatur of its "Kids Eat Right" label to Kraft Singles. What do you think of this?

I don't know any consumer who's going to walk down the aisle and think, 'Hey, this is blessed by nutritionists, this is really great!' [The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics] got paid, and they're slapping their approval seal on this thing. [...] The whole thing to me, it's like a scam.