NAEMSP defends prehospital ketamine use

The National Association of EMS Physicians issued a statement responding to recent controversy over prehospital ketamine use


By Laura French

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) has released a statement responding to recent controversy over the use of ketamine in prehospital settings, stating that the sedative is used under the authority and supervision of physician medical directors. 

The NAEMSP stated Tuesday that prehospital ketamine use should remain under the purview of EMS physicians. According to the association, a joint statement made by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) last week, as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's announcement that it would review the state's ketamine waiver program, have caused NAEMSP members "serious concern." 

The NAEMSP has issued a statement defending the use of ketamine in prehospital settings following recent controversy.
The NAEMSP has issued a statement defending the use of ketamine in prehospital settings following recent controversy. (Photo/NAEMSP)

"EMS providers are skilled professionals following the medical protocols set forth by their physician medical director," NAEMSP President David K. Tan, MD, EMT-T, FAAEM, FAEMS, said in a statement. "These protocols and standing orders of an EMS medical director are, by definition, used for patients. The suggestion that ketamine is routinely being used for 'non-medical' purposes is dangerously misleading." 

The joint statement from the ASA and ACEP last week read, in part, "[Ketamine's] safe use in prehospital care is dependent on an appropriate medical assessment by a paramedic with medical direction guiding appropriate dosing, monitoring as soon as feasible, and timely transport to an emergency department for further assessment and treatment. ASA and ACEP firmly oppose the use of ketamine or any other sedative/hypnotic agent to chemically incapacitate someone solely for a law enforcement purpose and not for a legitimate medical reason." 

The NAEMSP added in its statement that it has offered its expertise to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's task force during its review. 

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