How to choose a ketamine clinic?
Author: Megan Oxely, MD (Michigan Progressive Health & ASKP Founding Member)
So, I thought I would begin my contributions to the ASKP blog with this very important question. I’ve read many a blog on this exact same topic, but have found them all to be biased. Surprise! Each specialty believes they are the most qualified for the job. As an Emergency Medicine physician, I believe in equal opportunity. Each traditional medical specialty brings nuance to their ketamine clinic. The psychiatrist can help with other traditional medications; the anesthesiologist can push the dose higher safely. The psychologist is more helpful in transforming psychotherapy sessions with ketamine. Truly, any board certified medical professional can give ketamine infusions as long as their intentions are in the right place.
So how do you know that the clinic you are looking at has the right intentions or qualifications? Even here in the metro Detroit area, there are several places offering ketamine infusions. The number will likely grow in the next couple of years. With good reason – ketamine is a great, safe and effective drug that helps lots of people. As one of my mentors once put it – “Ketamine – fun to get and fun to give.” Unfortunately, because it is a “cash pay” service (meaning insurance companies most frequently do not cover it as a service) clinics may be popping up all over the place to get in on this “action”.
Here are a couple of questions to ask about your prospective ketamine clinic…
What is the setting?
The clinic should be a quiet and calm place. Getting centered mentally and maintaining calmness is key before starting an infusion. A ketamine infusion is best experienced in a private room, with or without your loved ones close (that part should be left up to you to decide). You shouldn’t be in a big room with lots of other patients separated by curtains or wait for an hour in the lobby with lots of other people making you anxious before your infusion.
How has the provider been trained?
Is the physician board certified in a specialty that relates to mental health or pain? – Anesthesia, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry would be the most common. Has the provider attended specific conferences related to ketamine management of mood disorders or chronic pain? Does the provider belong to an organization that is ketamine specific? Has the provider ever had board actions against them or lost their license? Often a simple Google search or looking at your state medical board should make this easy to answer.
How long has the clinic been open?
Certainly, the longer the clinic has been open, the better. Most of what we know about ketamine is experiential, so having more than two years experience would really make the provider an expert. Anesthesiologists and Emergency Medicine Physicians may claim years of experience with ketamine. However, giving low doses in the office for mental health is truly a different service when compared to how ketamine has been traditionally used.
What is the cost?
$400-$800 for a 40-60 minute infusion is reasonable. Any more and they are asking too much. Any less and you might want to be sure you are getting the personalized care you need at each visit to determine the best dose of ketamine for you. (This is not one size fits all medicine!)
What is the website like?
The website should be comprehensive, but not make ridiculous claims about how effective ketamine is. Nor should they claim that ketamine will “cure” you. Ketamine is an excellent tool in the tool box against mood disorders and chronic pain, but it is not right for everyone and requires a very personalized approach. Be sure to read reviews and related media about the clinic you are looking at.
What other services does the clinic offer?
A good ketamine clinic should have supporting services in the mental health arena – psychotherapy, group therapy, and psychiatric medication management are good possibilities. Does the clinic offer services like Mood Monitor to help track your well being in between infusions? Does the clinic seem to work with your existing mental health professional? If the practice is offering services that seem completely unrelated to ketamine and mental health (or chronic pain) it may be more likely the clinic is just trying to make a buck.
If you find satisfactory answer to all the above questions and feel comfortable with the interactions you have had with the prospective clinic, go ahead and schedule an appointment. I hope you have a good experience with the clinic and that you find relief.