In Practice

The ketamine crisis: Does South Africa have a plan B?

S Wall, V Bangalee


South Africa (SA) has a high incidence of deaths from trauma and injuries. Trauma has been identified as one part of the quadruple burden of disease afflicting the country. This article is concerned with the management of burns, which 3% of the population suffer from annually. Ketamine, acknowledged for its versatility and safety profile, remains a critical component in the medical arsenal of anaesthesiologists and clinicians treating both acute and chronic pain. In the management of burn-injured patients in particular, ketamine is the cornerstone of many analgesia protocols. However, issues pertaining to shortages of this medicine in SA warrant concern and discussion, particularly in view of the high reliance of doctors on ketamine for first-line procedural analgesia in the management of burns in both adult and paediatric patients. This article attempts to highlight the issues related to ketamine shortages, which often have significant clinical, safety, operational and research implications.

Authors' affiliations

S Wall, Pietermaritzburg Burn Service, Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Department of Surgery, South Africa; and School of Clinical Medicine, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

V Bangalee, Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Ketamine; Burns; Access

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(12):911-913. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i12.14188

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-11-27
Date published: 2019-11-27

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