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assessment, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, NIHSS, stroke



  1. Wells-Pittman, Jennifer MS, APRN, CNS
  2. Gullicksrud, Angela BSN, RN


ABSTRACT: The National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) is considered the standard for assessing neurologic status after an acute stroke. Currently, there is no guideline for when this assessment should be completed, nor is there consensus on how frequently or for how long.


We initiated a quality improvement project that sought first to determine when and how often nurses at a variety of institutions in our multisite health care system completed the NIHSS assessment and then to identify the minimum frequency at which nurses should complete the assessment. After reviewing the literature and current practices and observing internal and external benchmarks, we set a new standard for all institutions in the system to follow.


The new assessment frequency was based on patient condition and level of care, although that frequency would change if a patient showed new or worsening neurologic changes. The new standard was successfully implemented at all the primary and comprehensive certified stroke centers in our network. Ongoing monitoring confirmed that the frequency of NIHSS assessment met the needs of our patients and ensured staff adherence to the new practice.