Friday, February 8, 2019

New questions about ketamine at HCMC

Two days after the abrupt resignation of Jon Pryor, the CEO of Hennepin Healthcare, former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates has raised new questions about the use of ketamine by HCMC paramedics and Minneapolis police. While her work was cut short by the Minneapolis City Council, Yates has released a memo on its preliminary findings.

From the Star Tribune:

From July to September, the Atlanta-based firm where Yates works, King & Spalding, spent about 427 hours examining materials from 132 police encounters, including 122 hours of video, that took place from 2016 to 2018 and included the term “ketamine” in police reports, according to a letter from Yates. Some of the videos show people being uncooperative or aggressive toward the officers, many with signs of severe mental illness. In the majority of cases, the report said, officers acted professionally, even when dealing with difficult people.

Yet in a significant number of cases involving ketamine, the officers also diagnosed patients with “excited delirium syndrome,” according to the report. Excited delirium is a controversial term among medical authorities that describes a form of potentially fatal severe agitation, and its prevalence and even its existence are a matter of debate. The Yates report says that some patients did not always show obvious signs of such a high level of agitation, and investigators found no evidence that police were trained to identify the condition.

The report also notes the mention of ketamine in police reports grew from three in 2012 to 62 in 2017, citing numbers from a Minneapolis civil rights report.

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