Congratulations on taking the next big step in reclaiming your life from depression! You’ve decided that enough is enough, and you’re ready to find relief. You’ve likely spent hours comparing different depression treatment options and have come to the decision that Ketamine Therapy is best for you. There are many critical factors to consider when choosing which ketamine clinic to receive treatment from. We have put together a detailed list to help guide you in your decision-making process. If you have any questions at all, please give us a call at 310-270-0625.
Determine Your Route of Administration (ROA)
After deciding Ketamine Therapy is right for you, you’ll have to decide how you want the ketamine to be administered (IV, IM, nasal, sublingual, oral, or dermal). Different providers specialize in different methods, so once you narrow down your preferred ROA, you can further narrow your potential providers.
There is tremendous variability in the route of administration (ROA), and techniques vary widely, even within the same ROA. Best practices are evidence-based and are guided by proven clinical research. Dosing should also be evidence-based and modified to fit each patient’s needs. Achieving an individually tailored, personalized dose is essential for an optimal outcome.
Studies show that safety and efficacy are both highest with Intravenous (IV) Ketamine Infusion Therapy. All the published research supports IV Ketamine Infusion Therapy administered in five to six infusions, each lasting approximately 40 minutes, over one to three consecutive weeks, as the optimal treatment for depression and other mood disorders. Research supports starting at .5mg of ketamine per kilogram of body weight. The rate should be increased or decreased in small increments as needed. This protocol has been shown to achieve relief in over 70% of patients, even if their condition is treatment-resistant. When personalized by the provider, this success rate can be as high as 80-83%.
Research Treating Providers
A provider should have experience utilizing ketamine to treat the condition for which you are seeking treatment. Depression, suicidality, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and postpartum depression are some of the mood disorders that can respond positively to ketamine therapy. Neuropathic pain conditions can be treated as well, but it is important to confirm that the pain is neuropathic.
In addition to being experienced with treating depression/neuropathic pain with ketamine, a provider and medical team should also have a background that supports the treatment of mood disorders and/or neuropathic pain conditions. Confirm that the provider has studied with reputable universities and has a dependable employment history. They should be familiar with the use of anesthetics (like ketamine) and other medications that may be needed to provide high-quality, safe, comfortable, and effective care.
Researching clinics beforehand provides you with unfiltered insight into a provider’s quality of care. Many people start by asking their primary care doctor or another professional familiar with their history of mental health/neuropathic pain for referrals. A provider’s standing among colleagues in their given field is a good indicator of their competence.
You can also review testimonials from patients. Look for unique, detailed stories from real patients. Some providers generate fake reviews or incentivize patients to write positive reviews. Media attention is also a good indicator of a praiseworthy reputation. The media generally seeks authorities to speak on the topics they cover. While this is not foolproof (some providers buy media coverage), a substantial variety of coverage by high-quality media outlets can help validate a provider’s expertise.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a provider is their philosophy, outlook, and approach to mental health/pain. Oftentimes, you can get a good sense of their philosophy with a little online research. Do they have a section on their website that talks about how and why they do what they do? Do they have a clear mission statement that aligns with your interests? Sometimes, providers are active on social media sharing their thoughts and sentiments with others.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy is a treatment, not a cure, and appropriate aftercare and follow-up with patients is essential for long-lasting relief. Look for a provider that is willing and able to track a patient’s progress, starting with an assessment of symptoms before, during, and after treatment. They should also have some type of aftercare plan that includes a clear and detailed outline of positive lifestyle changes to prolong relief. Ideally, they can also provide additional resources and referrals for continued care.
Questions to ask ketamine therapy providers and/or facility staff:
- How long have you been providing ketamine for this use?
- Have you seen a significant number of patients in that time?
- Is ketamine therapy your clinical focus or just a small fraction of your total practice?
- Where have you studied and what is your employment history?
- Do you have an aftercare program that encourages patients to make healthy lifestyle changes?
- Will you work collaboratively/support a treatment plan with other providers who are treating me?
Assess the Facility
The setting and environment in which a patient receives treatment is also very important. Look for a clean, quiet, comfortable, and safe space that is dedicated to this kind of care. Patients should not feel as though their treatment is an extra “add-on” being squeezed into the main function of the clinic. Do patients get a private room with various amenities that promote a comfortable, relaxed mindset? (Comfortable infusion recliners, blankets, pillows, sleep masks, noise-canceling headphones, calming music, etc.) Does the provider administer medication to make the infusion experience more comfortable when necessary? Common examples include sedatives for patients who need additional help relaxing and antiemetics to minimize or eliminate nausea.
Check if the facility is accredited or certified for safety and mental health treatment. If so, by whom and at what level? Being certified by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) is the gold standard for outpatient accreditation, which helps to guarantee high standards of care are met.
It’s also important that the facility has access to hospital-grade monitoring equipment during the treatment. Patients should be monitored the entire time, whether from within the room or remotely from a nursing station. Resuscitation equipment like oxygen, defibrillators, and emergency medicine should be stocked and accessible, with medical staff having the training and qualifications to use it if needed.
The goal of every facility should be to help their patients relieve their depression/pain symptoms. In some cases, that may include maintenance treatment should symptoms reappear. It’s important for a facility’s care staff to follow up routinely and consistently post-treatment to check in on how the patient is feeling. Providers and care staff should not push maintenance treatment or other services if the treatment/services are not needed. In most cases, less is more when it comes to medicine.
For IV Ketamine Infusion Therapy, booster infusions should be scheduled on an as-needed basis, typically in pairs of two. Frequency ranges widely, but anywhere from monthly to yearly is sufficient depending on the circumstances. The timeline for booster treatments should be individually tailored to each patient and not pre-set in advance.
The Intake Process “Gut Check”
As excited as you are to get started, using ketamine to treat depression/pain should be a highly controlled process. The intake process extends from the time you reach out to the time you schedule your first appointment. This process should be clearly communicated in the initial conversations, and answers should be provided for any preliminary questions you may have. There are a few things you can prepare ahead of time to move through the process more quickly, including providing a documented diagnosis and your treatment history. Be prepared to also fill out some assessment paperwork in order to be cleared for treatment. Facilities which jump right to treatment with no questions asked should prompt big red flags.
The intake process is a good time to get to know the whole care team. Depending on how big the facility is, this may include everyone from the front office staff to the medical staff. High-quality care is a team effort, and a good provider in a reputable facility sets the foundation for the standard of care by leading a competent, compassionate team. It is crucial for the staff to cultivate a confidential and non-judgmental environment for each patient.
Throughout the intake process, ask yourself the following questions for a final “gut check:”
- Is the facility/provider represented professionally online and offline?
- Do the staff seem organized and consistent?
- Is the staff compassionate, knowledgeable, and engaged?
- Does the provider/staff treat patients with respect and empower them to collaborate in their own care?
- Does the provider/staff take a genuine interest in patients and make them feel comfortable?
- Does the provider/staff explain things in a way that you can understand?
- Do the staff respond to emails, calls, and other inquiries quickly?
- Does the provider/staff proactively try to resolve challenges?
- Does the provider/staff consistently provide accurate information in a compassionate way?
- Does the provider/staff display empathy and sensitivity from start to finish?
- Does the provider/staff show a sense of teamwork and the ability to administer personalized care?
- Is wellness and camaraderie evident between management, physicians, and support staff?
Red Flags to Watch Out For:
- Claims of secret formulas or “special techniques” that cannot be verified
- Providers who tout “more is better” or promise the most medicine
- Providers who also tout a “one-size-fits-all” approach to patient treatment
- Appointments made according to the clinic’s convenience rather than best practices
- Providers practicing solo or with one assistant, unless they are only seeing a couple of patients a day
- Extensive testing (labs, scans, etc.) that add to treatment costs without adding value
- Providers who offer subscription models, incentivize buying treatment in bulk with discounts or other offerings, prescribe long-term treatment plans, or set booster infusion schedules in advance
- Providers who prescribe take-home ketamine to all patients or encourage patients to use ketamine daily
Choosing the right clinic is a big decision—the most important one you will make on your path to healing. If you have any questions, free assistance is available at Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles. Call 310-270-0625 now or schedule a free call with a patient care coordinator here.