Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale

Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale is a medical scale used to measure the agitation or sedation level of a person. It was developed with efforts of different practitioners, represented by physicians, nurses and pharmacists.[1][2]

Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale
PurposeDetermine level of agitation or sedation

The RASS can be used in all hospitalized patients to describe their level of alertness or agitation.[3] It is however mostly used in mechanically ventilated patients in order to avoid over and under-sedation. Obtaining a RASS score is the first step in administering the Confusion Assessment Method in the ICU (CAM-ICU),[4] a tool to detect delirium in intensive care unit patients.

The RASS is one of many sedation scales used in medicine. Other scales include the Ramsay scale, the Sedation-Agitation-Scale, and the COMFORT scale for pediatric patients.


The Richmond Agitation–Sedation Scale
Score Term Description
+4 Combative Overtly combative or violent; immediate danger to staff
+3 Very agitated Pulls on or removes tube(s) or catheter(s) or has aggressive behavior toward staff
+2 Agitated Frequent nonpurposeful movement or patient–ventilator dyssynchrony
+1 Restless Anxious or apprehensive but movements not aggressive or vigorous
0 Alert and calm Spontaneously pays attention to caregiver
-1 Drowsy Not fully alert, but has sustained (more than 10 seconds) awakening, with eye contact, to voice
-2 Light sedation Briefly (less than 10 seconds) awakens with eye contact to voice
-3 Moderate sedation Any movement (but no eye contact) to voice
-4 Deep sedation No response to voice, but any movement to physical stimulation
-5 Unarousable No response to voice or physical stimulation


RASS was designed to have precise, unambiguous definitions for levels of sedation that rely on an assessment of arousal, cognition, and sustainability using common responses common stimuli presented in a logical progression. To better use it these stimuli should presented to the patient as follows:

  1. Observe patient. Is patient alert and calm (score 0)?
  2. If patient is not alert, in a loud speaking voice state patient's name and direct patient to open eyes and look at speaker. Repeat once if necessary. Can prompt patient to continue looking at speaker.
    • Patient has eye opening and eye contact, which is sustained for more than 10 seconds (score -1).
    • Patient has eye opening and eye contact, but this is not sustained for 10 seconds (score -2).
    • Patient has any movement in response to voice, excluding eye contact (score -3).
  3. If patient does not respond to voice, physically stimulate patient by shaking shoulder and then rubbing sternum if there is no response to shaking shoulder.
    • Patient has any movement to physical stimulation (score -4).
    • Patient has no response to voice or physical stimulation (score -5).


  1. ^ Curtis N. Sessler, Mark S. Gosnell, Mary Jo Grap, Gretchen M. Brophy, Pam V. O'Neal, Kimberly A. Keane, Eljim P. Tesoro, and R. K. Elswick "The Richmond Agitation–Sedation Scale", American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 166, No. 10 (2002), pp. 1338-1344. doi: 10.1164/rccm.2107138
  2. ^ Stawicki SP "Sedation scales: Very useful, very underused", OPUS 12 Scientist, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2007), pp. 10-12.
  3. ^ Ely EW, Truman B, Shintani A, Thomason JW, Wheeler AP, Gordon S, Francis J, Speroff T, Gautam S, Margolin R, Sessler CN, Dittus RS, Bernard GR. Monitoring sedation status over time in ICU patients: reliability and validity of the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS). JAMA. 2003 Jun 11;289(22):2983-91.
  4. ^ "Monitoring Delirium in the ICU". Retrieved 2015-04-28.