New EMS Drug Creating Controversy in West Texas

LUBBOCK,TX - University Medical Center started using a "cutting-edge" drug called ketamine for pre-medicine purposes in last year and a half. However, some residents in Lubbock and Amarillo gave the new drug major backlash from its possible side effects.

"One of the keys in pre-hospital medicine is keeping our first responders safe but also keep patients safe, and whenever a patient is having violent behavior this is a way we can keep them safe," UMC Emergency Medical Center Director Gerad Troutman, M.D. said. 

"Ketamine is a medication that creates an amnesic response so more or less you forget about what's going on, kind of numbs the brain," Dr. Troutman added. "So we use it sometimes in healthcare whenever we have that need."

He said this drug is most commonly used for violent or agitated patients who have a psychiatric illness or already influenced by another drug.

"First we always try to talk with the patient, try to deescalate the situation," Dr. Troutman said. "If that doesn't work, our two options are physical restraints or chemical restraints, which is where ketamine comes in."

Compared to other drugs, Dr. Troutman even prefers ketamine because it doesn't slow down breathing to a dangerous level like other sedatives would. 

"It almost doesn't decrease breathing," Dr. Troutman said. "So it's a great medication because it sedates the patient. They forget about what they're doing at that time and it allows us to safely transport and treat the patient."

However, those opposed of this drug argue that ketamine creates harmful effects with mental health, like depression.

"All medicines can have side effects," Troutman said. "One of the side effects from ketamine can be like a trembling-type response. There is additional medication that can be given in that case."

"The key is, it's a lot different when we're transporting in the back on an enclosed ambulance versus here at a big trama center where we have multiple personnel we have lots of other medications at our disposal," Dr. Troutman added. "So this is a safer place to allow that patient to wake up and see what we're doing."

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