Using the Glasgow Coma Scale: analysis and limitations

Br J Nurs. 2001;10(2):92-101. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2001.10.2.5391.


This article addresses the gap between the literature and practice in relation to the use of the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). It will explore level of consciousness and the GCS. The instigation of both central and peripheral painful stimuli is analyzed in an effort to prevent ritualistic practice. Attention is also given to the importance of including vital signs when using the GCS, as these can tell a lot, if not more, about the patient's neurological condition. Finally, the limitations of the GCS are examined to assist in a more accurate and consistent assessment tool for neurologically impaired patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / diagnosis
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Consciousness Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Consciousness Disorders / nursing
  • Glasgow Coma Scale / standards*
  • Humans
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Neurologic Examination / nursing
  • Neurologic Examination / standards*
  • Nursing Assessment / methods*
  • Nursing Assessment / standards*
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Reflex, Pupillary
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors