CDPHE notified EMS agencies of impending ketamine waiver suspension

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Remote, July 7, 2021: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified Emergency Medical Services physician Medical Directors in a letter of the suspension of ketamine for excited delirium and agitation in the prehospital setting. The suspension of ketamine waivers is effective per Governor Polis signing House Bill 21-1251 into law with his accompanying signing statement. House Bill 21-1251 changes how ketamine can be used, modifies the training requirements for paramedics authorized to use ketamine, and enhances the reporting and accountability requirements if the medication is administered by EMS personnel. Due to these legislative changes, CDPHE is modifying its program to ensure it aligns with state law. 

“It is of the utmost importance that Coloradans can receive safe and effective medical care from EMS providers,” said Randy Kuykendall, Division Director of the Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division. “CDPHE responded to national concerns about ketamine administration by convening a comprehensive review panel last year, and we will continue to be responsive by removing and restricting ketamine waivers as a result of this legislation. We remain committed to a safe Colorado for all.” 

In addition to the measures taken as a result of the bill, the department is also awaiting results from the Ketamine Investigatory Review Panel. This panel of experts has been examining ketamine administration in the pre-hospital setting and will provide a written report once that review is complete. Once the review is complete and revised guidance for ketamine waivers has been established, the department will determine any further action around ketamine waivers.