IV ketamine clinics are getting a lot of attention these days, and with good reason. With success rates in the 70-80% range for the treatment of depression and mood disorders and upward of 90% for some pain disorders, this new treatment is changing lives and bringing hope to more and more people every day.
With the variety of ketamine clinics out there, how do you know where to go?
Safety, setting, experience, and price, and success rates should all factor into your choice of clinics. At Northwest Ketamine Clinics, these are the areas we focused on as we built Northwest Ketamine Clinics, the Puget Sound’s first free-standing ketamine clinic, back in 2017. More and more clinics will be popping up in our region as profiteers try to get in on the “action”, or clinicians try to add ketamine infusions to their list of clinical offerings. So how do you sort out the qualifications and intentions of the different clinics?
Asking the right questions will help guide you as you start your ketamine journey:
Does the facility have all prudent safety equipment available in the case of emergency?
Take a look, a standard “crash cart” with emergency medications, emergency airway equipment, heart defibrillator, and suction machine are the bare minimum. Emergency transfer protocols should be in place and, Ideally, the clinic will be located a short drive from a hospital or emergency room.
Are the staff certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Basic Life Support?
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists and Anesthesiologists are experts at saving lives, but at a minimum, the clinician should be ACLS certified and have the experience to deal with emergencies as they arrive. It’s helpful to have support staff available who are certified in Basic Life Support and emergency protocols should be in place to ensure your safety.
Is the physical environment warm and calming?
A ketamine clinic should be a quiet, peaceful setting. Surgery centers, pain centers, and doctors offices don’t always provide the calm, warm feelings and emotions that should accompany ketamine treatments. Private rooms, comfortable treatment chairs, and lighting, and a place for loved ones to sit close by (if you choose) are important. The “feeling” a clinic gives you is an important part of the process. The waiting room should also be relaxing and quiet to help you reduce anxiety and allow you time to get “centered” before your infusion. Beware of clinics offering services unrelated to mental health or chronic pain, they may be in the ketamine business more for profit then as a helping profession.
Is the clinic responsive?
Good clinics will provide support staff who can answer calls immediately during business hours and help with basic questions and scheduling concerns. After hours messages should be responded to in a timely manner, and the clinician or clinical director should be available to return calls and answer more difficult questions within 24 hours. The clinic you choose should understand the importance of being responsive to patient’s needs and making sure those needs are met as quickly as possible.
Are the providers experienced and trained in ketamine therapy?
Ketamine infusions for mood disorders is a relatively new field. Choose a clinic that is busy and providers who have provided infusions to as many patients as possible. In general, busier clinics will have the experience to give you the greatest chances of success. Choose a provider who has experience giving low dose ketamine specifically for mental health. The protocols and techniques used in this setting are much different than when ketamine is given in operating rooms, don’t be fooled by someone who claims that their experience giving ketamine for anesthesia or emergency medicine has given them the right experience to be successful in a mental health setting.
How do I know who to choose?
Your treatment should be administered and directly supervised at by a doctor, CRNA, or registered nurse at all times. Providers should be board certified, with unrestricted licenses, and be active in a national association dedicated to education and research on low dose ketamine, like the American Society of Ketamine Physicians (ASKP) (www.askp.org).
Personality also matters, choose a provider that you feel comfortable with, who grounds you and helps you feel safe at all times.
Is the price reasonable?
Pricing for infusions can vary widely in different areas and with different providers, but generally, 400-$800 per infusion can be expected. Choose a clinic that you feel offers a fair price for the services they provide. Less expensive clinics may not be giving you the personal attention and the 1:1 time that you need each visit to determine the right ketamine dose for you. We tailor each protocol to each individual and take the time to talk with you about your experience and help monitor progress.
Website and reviews:
Take time to look at the website of the ketamine clinics you are considering. Is it comprehensive? Does it make outlandish claims? Does the overall “feel” of the website and clinic match what you’re searching for?
Search for reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. One bad review doesn’t always mean there are problems with a clinic, but a series of bad reviews may be a red flag. Look for themes in the reviews that point out the strengths or weaknesses of the clinics you are reviewing.
Low-dose IV ketamine can be life-changing. I hope this blog has helped you choose a clinic and give you the conviction to move forward schedule an appointment, and begin treatments. I wish you the best on your journey.
Give us a call NWKC with any questions or to schedule a consultation.