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Keywords

 

Authors

  1. Fischer, Juliet RN, MSN
  2. Mathieson, Claranne RN, MSN

Abstract

The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) has been the gold standard of neurologic assessment for trauma patients since its development by Jennett and Teasdale in the early 1970s. The GCS was found to be a simple tool to use. It became the method of choice for trauma care practitioners to document neurologic findings over time and predict functional outcome. Although the scale has been shown to be effective, many authors have cited weaknesses in the scale including the inability to predict outcome, variation in inter-rater reliability, and the inconsistent use by caregivers in the prehospital and hospital settings. This article outlines the components of the GCS and how practitioners can best use the scale, particularly in patients whose injuries and treatments make them difficult to assess.