Aurora has no immediate plans to re-implement ketamine after Elijah McClain review

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – Aurora Fire Rescue has no immediate plans to reimplement the use of ketamine as a tool for sedating extremely agitated patients even though the city’s moratorium on the drug expires Monday.

“Ketamine is not available for field use in Aurora at this time, and there is no timeline for reimplementation,” said Sherri-Jo Stowell, a spokesperson for the fire department. “The medical direction team will continue to evaluate and review the protocols/trainings to determine the best approach for our patients.”

The city council unanimously voted to place a moratorium on the drug in September, while independent consultants investigated Elijah McClain’s death. McClain died days after police tried to subdue him with a carotid hold and after medics sedated him with an injection of ketamine.

The moratorium is set to expire 30 days after council received the results of the investigation, which was February 22, 2021.

Aurora’s independent physician consultant, Dr. Melissa Costello, said she found no definitive evidence the drug led to McClain’s death but that it might have affected a medic’s ability to properly assess his medical condition.

“If anything, the ketamine may have contributed to some difficulties on the part of the paramedics after his sedation of assessing the fact that he was continuing to decline,” she said.

A coroner could not rule out the possibility that McClain suffered an adverse reaction to the drug, which many emergency physicians declare to be a safe tool for calming agitated patients in the field.

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