A woman calls 911 to get help when her boyfriend has a diabetic seizure. The paramedics who arrived injected him with ketamine — known as a date rape drug — typically used by EMTs assisting police in arresting violently agitated suspects.
For the second time in two years, Hennepin Healthcare and the Minneapolis Police Department are facing public backlash for the use of ketamine, this time over allegations that paramedics sent a man to intensive care for two days after needlessly injecting him with the powerful sedative.
The patient, Max Johnson, suffered a diabetic seizure on July 26, according to a Facebook post from his girlfriend, Abby Wulfing. Minneapolis police and Hennepin Healthcare paramedics responded to Wulfing’s 911 call and repeatedly pressed her on Johnson’s drug use, unconvinced of Wulfing’s explanation that low-blood sugar caused the seizure, according to the post.
Dr. Michael Carome, a medical expert for the consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, said the description of Johnson’s case speaks to a systemic problem.
“We have an emergency medicine system that too often seems to involve significant police response,” said Carome. “And there’s this reflexive use of powerful sedatives.” If a patient is suffering from low-blood sugar, “the last thing that person needs is treatment with potent sedatives.”