Anesthesiologist Group Says Ketamine Protocols Should Be Reviewed

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The American Society of Anesthesiologists says it “firmly” opposes the use of ketamine or other drugs to incapacitate someone for a law enforcement purpose.

This comes as a new report by KUNC following the death of a 23-year-old last year that recently sparked Black Lives Matter protests and national interest. The news organization found emergency medical service providers used ketamine 902 times over the pan of 36 months.


Elijah McClain died after an encounter with police. Officers stopped McClain, a massage therapist, after a 911 call on Aug. 24, 2019, reported him because he was wearing a ski mask and flailing his arms. Police said they had a right to stop him because he was “being suspicious.” He begged them repeatedly to let go of him, according to body-camera video.

Police placed him in a chokehold that cuts off blood to the brain, and paramedics administered 500 milligrams of the sedative to calm him down. He suffered cardiac arrest, then was later declared brain dead and taken off life support.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued waivers allowing doctors at 101 agencies throughout the state to use the drug.

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