Ketamine: a unique drug with several potential uses in the prehospital setting

Ketamine is an anaesthetic agent that does not depress a patient's respiratory drive, setting it apart from other sedatives such as benzodiazepines. It has historically been used in austere environments with few resources for close monitoring under anaesthetia. More recently, it has found frequent use in paediatric specialties to facilitate painful procedures, but also seen use in adults. Commonly used in emergency departments by physician-level providers, it has found a use in the prehospital setting. Case reviews, as well as retrospective and prospective studies, have examined its use by physicians and paramedics in the prehospital setting. Ketamine offers several potential uses for paramedics including analgesia, sedation, and airway management; but thorough understanding of the drug and its unique effects is critical for safe use.

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