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A patient in a coma is unconscious.

Unconsciousness is difficult to define but is characterised by some or all of:

  • apparently asleep
  • eyes closed
  • not talking
  • not responding to instructions
  • not moving

The level of unconsciousness is effectively described by the Glasgow coma scale which assesses:

  • best verbal response
  • best motor response
  • level of stimulus required to make the patient open their eyes

Last reviewed 01/2018