The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is a neurological scoring system introduced in 1974 that was designed to be used to assess and document neurologic function after head injury .
Hypoxia, hypercapnia, and aspiration can all worsen neurologic outcome after an insult. Existing guidelines suggest that a Glasgow Coma Scale score (GCS) ≤ 8 indicates a need for urgent endotracheal intubation . However, the need for intubation and airway protection should be based on observed hypoventilation, the loss of protective airway reflexes, and the anticipated risk of aspiration. While reduced GCS scores may be correlated with failures of airway maintenance or failures of ventilation/oxygenation, many patients with a GCS ≤ 8 have intact airway reflexes and may be capable of maintaining their own airway. At the same time, patients with a GCS > 8 can have impaired airway reflexes and therefore may be at risk. Unfortunately, these features cannot be reliably predicted using the GCS alone [3-5].
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