State leaders will consider a new execution procedure next week that requires a doctor's participation.
But the new proposal appears to conflict with the state medical board's recent declaration that physicians who actively take part in an execution violate medical ethics.
The proposed change in the state's "execution protocol" highlights a dilemma that has effectively put executions in North Carolina on hold.
Last year, a federal judge agreed to let an execution go through only after the state assured him a physician and a registered nurse would be present to ensure the inmate did not suffer pain as he was put to death via injection.
But last month, the North Carolina Medical Board called a doctor's participation in capital punishment "a departure from the ethics of the medical profession."