Introduction to the Management of the Unconscious Patient Acute Care Day - 5th Year Medical Students

Introduction to the Management of the Unconscious Patient Acute Care Day - 5th Year Medical Students

Welcome to the Management of the Unconscious Patient Acute Care day.

Next year, when you become qualified doctors, you will be presented with a number of comatose patients who present with acute life threatening illnesses. This acute care day has been developed to enable you to develop strategies for dealing with these and completes the six sessions on acute care medicine begun in year 4.

Educational Objectives:

The educational objectives of the Acute Care Day Programme are:

  • To enable you to develop the appropriate clinical skills to identify and treat patients with acute life threatening illnesses that they will be presented with as newly qualified doctors.
  • To emphasise a logical way to assess and manage the patient in an acute care setting.
  • To provide a framework for resuscitation.

Educational Objectives for “Management of the Unconscious Patient” day:

  • Be able to assess patients presenting with varying degrees, and varying causes of unconsciousness using the Glasgow COMA scale and other methods
  • Be able to rapidly assess the severity of the threat to life of an unconscious patient presenting acutely, and institute safe management.
  • Be able to determine differential diagnoses for patients presenting with coma.
  • Be aware of some of the legal issues involved in the care of such patients.

Organisation of the day

The day is organised in a similar way to the other acute care days. The introductory session will consist of 3 seminars. Subsequently there will be a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and a clinical scenario.


Pre-Course reading matter

To get the maximum benefit from the day, it is essential that you do some preliminary reading. Pre-course reading material is available to download via the weblinks on this page. Please read all this before the day. You will be expected to know the topics and be able to make active contributions to the discussions.

Pre course reading material:

  • Neurological Examination of Unconscious Patient
  • SIGN Guideline 46: Early management of patients with a head injury.Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN). Edinburgh 2000.
  • Recommendations for the Safe Transfer of Patients with Brain Injury.
    Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI). London 2006.
  • NICE CG 56 Head Injury: Triage, assessment, investigation and early management of head injury in infants, children and adults.
    National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). HMSO 2007.
  • Brain Trauma Foundation.
    Bullock MR & Povlishock JT (editors)
    Guidelines for the Management of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.
    Journal of Neurotrauma 24 (supplement 1) 2007
    Further reading:
  • Disability in young people and adults one year after head injury: prospective cohort study.
     Thornhill S, Teasdale GM, Murray GD, McEwen J, Roy CW, Penny KI
     British Medical Journal. 2000, 320(7250):1631-5
  • Traumatic Brain Injury: from impact to rehabilitation.
     Halliday J & Absalom AR
     British Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2008 VOL 69 PT5 pp284-9
  • Traumatic brain Injury: assessment, resuscitation and early management.
     Moppett IK
     British Journal of Anaesthesia. Vol 99 Number 1 July 2007 pp18 -31

Copies of some of the slides used for the teaching will be available to download via the weblinks on this page following the teaching day.


Look forward to seeing you there,

Charlotte Gilhooly
Acute Care Day Co-ordinator.