Is Ketamine Safe?

Relatively Few Fatalities Attributed to Ketamine Overdose Have Been Documented

Overall, ketamine is a relatively safe drug when administered under the supervision of a doctor. Many ketamine doctors report using ketamine for over 20 years without reporting a single ketamine infusion fatality. Side effects including blood pressure elevation and heart rate changes can happen which can be dangerous in patients with hypertension, heart failure, arrhythmia, stroke, aneurysm, and other cardiovascular, renal, or pulmonary conditions.

Ketamine has been used for over 50 years in medicine. Limited literature is available on the ketamine concentrations involving deaths due to overdose, since these incidents are not common.

While ketamine has a very low rate of reported overdose fatalities, it is no guarantee that ketamine will not cause adverse events or even death.

Ketamine overdose was attributed to several documented fatality cases

Ketamine as a sole drug has been reported in only a few cases of overdose. Two adult fatalities due to an overdose of ketamine alone had blood concentrations of 7 mg/L in a 31-year-old female, and 27 mg/L in an 18-year-old male. Ketamine concentrations in a 26-year-old man whose death was attributed to ketamine intoxication were 6.9 and 1.8 mg/L in heart and femoral blood, respectively. Ketamine concentrations in a 20-year-old man whose death was attributed to asthma (and ketamine was considered an incidental finding), were 1.6 and 0.6 mg/L in heart and femoral blood, respectively.

Numerous fatalities involving drugs mixed with ketamine have been reported

Numerous mixed-drug fatalities reveal that ketamine was a contributing cause of death. In mixed-drug fatalities, the concentrations of ketamine at the time of autopsy were markedly lower than the few reports of intoxication due to ketamine alone.

Ketamine, like any drug, should never be abused or misused. Ketamine has abuse potential. While rare, deaths have been reported in overdose due to ketamine alone and when mixed with other drugs.