The Karnofsky Performance Scale Index is an assessment tool for functional impairment.
Karfnofsky performance scale can be used to compare effectiveness of different therapies and to assess the prognosis in individual patients.
Lower the the Karnofsky score, the worse the likelihood of survival. Lower Karnofsky score indicates a severe disease.
The scale is frequently used in hospice and in cancer patients.
The Karnofsky Performance Score (KPS) ranking runs from 100 to 0, where 100 is “perfect” health and 0 is death.
This scoring system is named after Dr. David A. Karnofsky, who described the scale with Dr. Walter H. Abelmann, Dr. Lloyd F. Craver, and Dr. Joseph H. Burchenal in 1948.
The primary purpose of its development was to allow physicians to evaluate a patient’s ability to survive chemotherapy for cancer.
David A. Karnofsky, MD, (d. 1969) was an oncologist at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. He specialized in cancer chemotherapy and affiliated with the division of experimental chemotherapy.
Karnofsky Performance Scale is outlined below.
A higher score indicates a better functional status. Typically, someone who is better able to walk and care for themselves has a better prognosis.
Normal, no complaints, no evidence of disease
Able to carry on normal activity; minor symptoms of disease
Normal activity with effort; some symptoms of disease
Cares for self; unable to carry on normal activity or active work
Requires occasional assistance but is able to care for needs
Requires considerable assistance and frequent medical care
Disabled: requires special care and assistance
Severely disabled; hospitalization is indicated, but death not imminent
Very sick, hospitalization necessary; active treatment necessary
Moribund, fatal processes progressing rapidly
Patients can be generally categorized into three groups of needs, based on their scores
- Able to carry on normal activity and to work
- No special care needed
- Unable to work
- Able to live at home and care for most personal needs
- Varying amount of assistance needed
- Unable to care for self
- Requires equivalent of institutional or hospital care
- Diseases may be progressing rapidly
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