Skip to main content
  • Poster presentation
  • Open access
  • Published:

GCS in the prehospital setting is an adequate predictor of outcome in comatose patients


Glasgow Coma Scale score (GCS) obtained in the hospital has been shown to predict mortality well [1]. However, the performance of GCS in the prehospital setting has not been previously studied. We hypothesized that GCS would be an adequate method for triage and for outcome prediction also when obtained prehospitally. It is crucial to identify lifethreatening emergencies in the very early phase in order to shorten the time for initial assessment and further in-hospital visitation, as the time spent in the Emergency Department (ED) is related to mortality [2].


Using amPHI®, the regional prehospital record-keeping system, we identified patients with an initial prehospital GCS < 9 over a 3-month period. Further information on these patients was collected from the Patient Administrative System and through review of the paper charts. Only patients admitted to the ED at Aalborg Hospital were included. Patients under 16 years were excluded.


60 patients were identified of which 23 (38%) were women. The overall mortality was 35%. The survivors were younger (p < 0.001) and had a higher prehospital GCS (p = 0.003) than non-survivors. Patients staying in-hospital had a significantly lower prehospital GCS (p = 0.015) compared to patients dismissed from the ED. Poisoning represented the most common aetiology. A subgroup analysis showed that alcohol was involved in 30% of all cases and in 82% of the poisonings.


Patients with the lowest prehospital GCS-score had the highest mortality. There were no differences between the admissions to the intensive care unit and to the general ward in this material. We believe GCS to be a well-established score to help triage and communication between a prehospital setting and receiving emergency department.


  1. Bastos PG, Sun X, et al.: Glasgow Coma Scale Score in the evaluation of outcome in the intensive care unit: findings from the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation III study. Crit Care Med. 1993, 21 (10): 1459-65. 10.1097/00003246-199310000-00012.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Goldhill DR, et al.: The longer patients are in hospital before Intensive Care admission the higher their mortality. Int Care Med. 2004, 30: 1908-13. 10.1007/s00134-004-2386-2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marlene Kanstrup Dahl.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Dahl, M.K., Gade, J. & Kjærgaard, S. GCS in the prehospital setting is an adequate predictor of outcome in comatose patients. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 17 (Suppl 2), P4 (2009).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: