The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is widely used to assess head-injured patients. However, patients with acute severe head injury are typically managed with varying doses of sedative drugs that may interfere with GCS assessments. There is a question as to whether GCS assessments are useful and justified when the patient is sedated. The limited literature available is briefly reviewed. The aim of the audit described in this paper was to gain an overview of current practice among the neuroscience intensive care units in the UK, in search of any consensus. Thirty questionnaires were distributed and 23 returned (a 77% response). The results show considerable variations in practice and, in particular, differences between those units that treat only neuroscience patients and those that manage general intensive care patients as well. This audit demonstrates a lack of clear consensus and highlights the need for more research.
Abstract reprinted from the British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, volume 2, Brunker C, ‘Assessment of sedated head-injured patients using the Glasgow Coma Scale: an Audit.’, pages 276–280. © 2006, reproduced with permission from MA Healthcare Limited.