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2437 pages added, reviewed or updated during the last month (last updated: 23/4/2021)


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Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)

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The Glasgow coma scale measures 3 different types of response. These are:

  • best motor response - 6 grades
  • best verbal response - 5 grades
  • eye opening - 4 grades

An overall score is made by summing the score in the 3 assessed areas. The lowest possible score is 3. The maximum is 15.

Generally in managing patients, a score of 8 is felt to be the threshold - less than 8 implies a significant problem.

Notes (1):

  • monitoring and exchange of information about individual patients should be based on the three separate responses on the Glasgow Coma Scale (for example, a patient scoring 13 based on scores of 4 on eye-opening, 4 on verbal response and 5 on motor response should be communicated as E4, V4, M5)
  • if a total score is recorded or communicated, it should be based on a sum of 15, and to avoid confusion this denominator should be specified (for example, 13/15)
  • individual components of the GCS should be described in all communications and every note and should always accompany the total score
  • the paediatric version of the Glasgow Coma Scale should include a 'grimace' alternative to the verbal score to facilitate scoring in pre-verbal children

Reference:

  1. NICE (September 2007). Head injury guideline

Last reviewed 01/2018

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