Ketamine in the ED: medical politics versus patient care

Am J Emerg Med. 1999 Nov;17(7):722-5. doi: 10.1016/s0735-6757(99)90169-9.


The safe and effective use of ketamine for sedation/analgesia by emergency physicians has been validated in the medical literature. Nonetheless, arbitrary restrictions of this medication to anesthesia practitioners have prohibited emergency physician use in some locations. We explore the scientific evidence related to the use of ketamine by emergency physicians for sedation/analgesia, the history of sedation, the operational definitions of conscious sedation and dissociative anesthesia, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) related standards. We conclude that ketamine sedation/ analgesia offers many specific advantages for emergency patients and that it is safely administered by emergency physicians in the appropriately monitored setting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / therapeutic use*
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Conscious Sedation / standards
  • Conscious Sedation / trends
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Emergency Medicine / methods*
  • Emergency Medicine / standards
  • Emergency Medicine / trends
  • Emergency Treatment / methods*
  • Emergency Treatment / standards
  • Emergency Treatment / trends
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
  • Ketamine / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative
  • Ketamine