Sunday, December 7, 2008


While reading a comment on Crusty Ambulance Driver's blog, I came across the term CAOx3.  I've never seen this term before, so a quick google search came up with conscious, alert and oriented times 3.

Of course I'm familiar with A&Ox3, but I've never seen conscious added to the equation.  Is this something that is commonly used and I just haven't seen it, or maybe is used frequently in other parts of the country?  It doesn't make sense to me, because to my concrete reasoning, if you are alert or oriented, then by definition, you are conscious.

So my question to anyone who uses this term:  Do you use it because it conveys something that I'm not understanding that is not already contained in A&O or do you use it because that is the way that you learned or the way that others around you do it?

And lest anyone think I'm being snarky here, I'm not.  I really want to know so I'm not caught flat-footed if I see this in the less-virtual world.

Also I have nothing else to post right now.


Violence Worker said...

Aha! I figured it out. It's how you differentiate between Republicans and Democrats. The Republican , of course, would be conscious. Ints kind of like differentiating between the living and zombies.


Cranky Student Nurse said...

I'm in nursing school and I've seen it before. I couldn't figure it out ether and my nursing instructor said that's the way they do it too. Maybe conscious means non-sedated? Perhaps someone is CAOx 3 if they aren't on any sort of opioid pain relievers and then AO x 3 if they are but awake enough to say their name, where they are and what year it is? That's the only scenario I could think of that would differentiate. I could be wrong though.

Braden said...

Violence - you have politics on the brain. Anyway, both the Republican and the Democrat are conscious, it's just that the Democrat is not fully oriented.

Cranky - I can see where something like that might be, but wouldn't that also be covered under alert? As in if you are sedated then maybe you are obtunded or stuporous or lethargic. I still see no need for a separate designation of conscious.

NewGradNurse said...

they cannot be alert if they are not conscious. seems redundant to me.

Trauma Junkie said...

I agree with NewGradNurse's comment.

I've seen a lot of things charted lately that I have never seen before. For example, I came across a chart that used the abbreviation NARN for no adverse reactions noted (albuterol neb tx). I asked my RT school instructor and she said this is commonly used.

Violence Worker said...

Politics - is there anything else?


hilinda said...

I've seen it both ways, in the same area. I think it's simply that some people teach it abbreviated one way, and others, the other. No particular reason.

Likewise, some dispatchers will relay that the patient is "conscious, alert and oriented." I think when they say it they're starting at the most basic- are they conscious?- and then going on to add additional information. Hearing "conscious" right up front can drop the adrenalin level a bit for responders, maybe.

bree said...

I think its a building tool... if that makes any sense... you can be Conscious but not alert/oriented... you can be conscious and alert but not oriented... and you can be conscious and alert and oriented x1, 2 or 3... it just gives you a down-step from just A&Ox3... am I making any sense? Basically, what I was told (in school) is that the rationale is to give you the ability to go one step below alert... though, I suppose if you've got some one A&Ox3, then the C is pretty redundant.

Marijke Durning said...

I think it's a waste of time and head scratching if you don't know what it means. If you're not conscious, how can you be alert or even not alert?