GCS 8, intubate?

‘Patients with GCS scores of 8 or less require prompt intubation’, that’s what ATLS tells us.

The mantra of GCS 8, intubate has pervaded teaching for those involved in the management of patients with a reduced GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale). But on reflection it would seem slightly odd that the gain or loss of a single point on the Glasgow Coma Scale could simply account for a change in the decision as to whether a patient would benefit from intubation and ventilation. So should the patient with a GCS of 9 be best managed without a definitive airway, but when that slips to 8 we should reach for the portex®?

In this podcast we take a deeper look at the GCS, we have a think about the role that it was designed to perform and consider how it should best be applied to acutely ill patients when considering protecting their airway.

The podcast is based upon the blog from the TEAM Course blog (Training in Emergency Airway Management), make sure to go and have a look at the post and other resources available on that site.

Enjoy!

SimonRob & James

References

GCS 8 intubate; TEAMcourse

Advanced trauma life support (ATLS®): the ninth edition. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013;74(5):1363-6.Teasdale G, Jennett B. Assessment of coma and impaired consciousness. A practical scale. Lancet. 1974;2(7872):81-4.

Teasdale G, Maas A, Lecky F, Manley G, Stocchetti N, Murray G. The Glasgow Coma Scale at 40 years: standing the test of time. Lancet Neurol. 2014;13(8):844-54.

Duncan R, Thakore S. Decreased Glasgow Coma Scale score does not mandate endotracheal intubation in the emergency department. J Emerg Med. 2009;37(4):451-5.

Green SM. Cheerio, laddie! Bidding farewell to the Glasgow Coma Scale. Ann Emerg Med. 2011;58(5):427-30.

Healey C, Osler TM, Rogers FB, et al. Improving the Glasgow Coma Scale score: motor score alone is a better predictor. J Trauma. 2003;54(4):671-8.

Isbister GK, Downes F, Sibbritt D, Dawson AH, Whyte IM. Aspiration pneumonitis in an overdose population: frequency, predictors, and outcomes. Crit Care Med. 2004;32(1):88-93.

Adnet F, Baud F. Relation between Glasgow Coma Scale and aspiration pneumonia. Lancet. 1996;348(9020):123-4.

Kulig K, Rumack BH, Rosen P. Gag reflex in assessing level of consciousness. Lancet. 1982;1(8271):565.

Rotheray KR, Cheung PS, Cheung CS, et al. What is the relationship between the Glasgow coma scale and airway protective reflexes in the Chinese population?. Resuscitation. 2012;83(1):86-9.

Moulton C, Pennycook A, Makower R. Relation between Glasgow coma scale and the gag reflex. BMJ. 1991;303(6812):1240-1.

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