Publish date:

Hennepin Healthcare vows improvements after review into ketamine use on police subjects

The health organization says it will change its procedures.

The results of two reviews into the use of the drug ketamine on people detained by police in Minneapolis have been released by Hennepin Healthcare.

The health organization came under scrutiny last year when a Star Tribune report revealed that the powerful sedative was being used by its EMS responders on possible suspects at the reported encouragement of Minneapolis police, even when it wasn't clear a crime had been committed.

On Thursday, Hennepin Healthcare released two reviews into the use of ketamine, one pf which was by an internal working group, while the other was carried out by independent ketamine experts from Dallas.

Here are some of the key points from the reports, which you can read here:

  • The EMS paramedics who used ketamine to calm agitated subjects in emergency situations "were consistent with national standards and appeared well trained."
  • There's no suggestion that the EMS staff administered the drug at the direction or under the influence of police, with both reports finding no evidence "that Hennepin Healthcare EMS paramedics made different decisions about the use of sedation than they would have in the absence of law enforcement or research protocols."
  • However, the working group reported a situation in which Minneapolis police officers "appeared to threaten a patient with a potential medical intervention (i.e., the administration of Ketamine)."
  • It also found instances where EMS staff "failed to demonstrate the level of professionalism that is expected by Hennepin Healthcare and the public."
  • A memo by assistant Hennepin County attorney Patti Jurkovich revealed she had viewed eight incidents recorded by police body cameras that showed ketamine being administered, and found "the administration of ketamine was medically appropriate and justified in each of the incidents under review." 
  • The suspects who had been sedated with ketamine were then enrolled in a Hennepin Healthcare drug trial to study the sedative's use without giving consent. Hennepin Healthcare CEO Jon Pryor told MPR on Thursday that they followed rules and regulations in terms of this study, but admits they should have "engaged our community more in the research process" as well as being more up front about the use of ketamine as a treatment.
  • But nobody sedated in emergency situations suffered any serious adverse effects, like cardiac arrest, while none of those enrolled in the study were exposed to "more than a minimal risk of harm."

The finding of the reviews are somewhat different from the findings of the Office of Police Conduct report initially shared by the Star Tribune last year, which suggested that police officers had urged EMS paramedics to use ketamine to sedate suspects, 

Improvements to be made

The reports released by Hennepin Healthcare does recommend that changes be made when it comes to the use of ketamine.

These include: 

– Regularly reviewing the records of patients who have been sedated with ketamine before arriving at hospital to ensure that standards are being upheld.

– Enter into a partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness so that EMS paramedics are trained in de-escalation techniques when confronted with patients suffering a mental health crisis.

– EMS staff will have to undergo "implicit bias training" to build trust with communities or color, and "better understand the conditions that have led to fear and a lack of trust of first responders within communities of color."

– The use of restraint devices and techniques that could impede bleeding or circulation must stop as "as soon as safely possible" after the ketamine has been given.

– Further training to ensure paramedics are clear on their roles and the roles of law enforcement in emergency situations, as well as training to ensure they monitor patients properly after the sedative has been given.

Next Up

Dalvin Cook

Matthew Coller: Vikings feel really close and really far away

Matthew Coller's work can be found daily at Purple Insider.

Driving car wheel

More than 1,800 seat belt violations in 2 week crackdown 'baffles' police

The campaign ran from Sep. 19 to Sep. 30 and resulted in 1,805 seat belt citations.

target lego

Target teams up with LEGO on new collection of clothes, home goods

The LEGO Collection x Target is described as the retailer's "most inclusive partnership to date."

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 8.23.47 AM

Man indicted for allegedly making death threats to Hennepin Co. employees

Peter Robert Berry was also indicted and charged for possessing firearms as a felon.

ATM bank

Frustration as switch from TCF to Huntington Bank hits problems

Customers reported being unable to use their debit cards or access their accounts, while there were long waits for phone support.

minnesota bureau of criminal apprehension - bca

BCA: 3 officers fired guns during Oakdale armed standoff

A fourth official fired "less-lethal" ammunition.

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins makes big donation to Vikings' social justice committee

The committee works on issues such as criminal justice reform, education and voter registration.

Meghan Roth Go Fund Me

Accomplished MN runner goes into cardiac arrest during Boston Marathon

Other racers jumped in to give the 34-year-old mother CPR, saving her life.

Flickr - Winston Smith memorial uptown June 4 - Chad Davis

Review reveals body cam video from aftermath of Winston Smith shooting

While no video of the shooting exists, an officer captured some video immediately afterward.

classroom mask

Parents object to Minneapolis Schools' 14-day COVID exposure quarantines

Other Twin Cities school districts do not have quarantine protocols quite as strict as in Minneapolis.

Pixabay - police lights, tape

Good Samaritan has car stolen while tending to man stabbed in neck

The thief then ran into the good Samaritan while driving off.

Screen Shot 2021-10-13 at 3.17.46 PM

Minnesota family learns their baby has extremely rare, fatal disease

The baby's mother is hoping to provide her son with the best life possible.


Minneapolis announces independent review of police-ketamine report

A leaked draft report revealed some officers had urged medical responders to drug people.


Mpls. woman claims racism after police, EMS allegedly use ketamine on sick boyfriend

She said he was having a seizure due to diabetes, but police and EMS allegedly administered a potentially deadly dose of ketamine, which put him in the ICU.

MPD responds to report officers urged drugs be used to subdue dozens

The Star Tribune revealed that dozens of suspects and non-suspects had been drugged.

Sally Yates to investigate Minneapolis police ketamine controversy

She'll investigate a report that accuses officers of sedating suspects with ketamine.

Report: President's crucial decision on healthcare subsidies pushed back 3 months

The subsidies help people get affordable health plans through programs such as MinnesotaCare.

Study: The most and least expensive hospitals, clinics in Minnesota

A tranche of analysis and data has been released by MN Community Measurement.

hennepin county medical center

HCMC staff demand change, limit use of 'medical force'

It comes after complaints about the use of ketamine on police suspects.