Asked in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury for Wisconsin

Q: Joyous promised me the low dose ketamine treatment would be safe, it caused me psychosis and made my depression worse

do I have a case for a lawsuit?, this happened last year

1 Lawyer Answer

A: It is possible that you have a lawsuit if you suffered actual legally compensable injuries.

The FDA has approved a ketamine-based medication for depression which is administered as a nasal spray called esketamine (Spravato). It is only approved for adults who haven’t been helped by oral antidepressants, have major depressive disorder, or are suicidal. The patient continues on their oral antidepressant and receives esketamine at a doctor’s office or in a clinic, where a health care provider watches over them for 2 hours after the dose. Patients usually get the nasal spray twice a week for 1 to 4 weeks; then once a week for weeks 5 to 9; and then once every week or 2 after that.

Other ketamine-based medications may be prescribed for depression, but such use may be "off-label"--meaning that the FDA has not approved that particular form of medication for depression. It is not necessarily illegal for a provider to prescribe a medication for "off-label" use, and there is certainly research supporting the use of low-doses of ketamine for the treatment of depression.

Ketamine does, however, have very well documented side effects that a lay person might mistake for psychosis, including hallucinations, a feeling of detachment, disorientation, and changes in sensory perception. These side effects are why ketamine is used as an illegal recreational "club drug" predominantly by teenagers and young adults. These side effects ought to have been disclosed to you either verbally or in writing. Given the widespread knowledge of these effects, an argument can be made that these effects are such common knowledge that most people are already aware of them whether they are specifically disclosed by a healthcare provider or not.

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