This guideline covers the assessment and early management of head injury in children, young people and adults. It promotes effective clinical assessment so that people receive the right care for the severity of their head injury, including referral directly to specialist care if needed.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • People with head injury, their families and carers.

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline updates and replaces NICE guideline CG56 (September 2007).

Next review: 2017

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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