The Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) is an evaluation tool used to predict how long terminally ill patients are expected to live with their illness. There are ten-point increments between “normal functioning” (100) and “dead” (0) on the Karnofsky scale. Unlike an SI system where there are increments between the base values (kilogram and gram, kilometer and meter), no such increments exist for the KPS scale–the values are used as they are.
However, guidelines have recently been developed to help improve the consistency and reliability of the KPS, even though no specific instructions were initially developed for its administration. In this article, we aim to give you a basic understanding of the topic.
Understanding the Values of the Karnofsky Score
As we mentioned before, the KPS has 11 increments ranging from functioning to dead, but those are the extremes. What about all the other readings? In this section, we provide an overview of the entire KPS scale so that you can tell at a glance the status of your loved one if the test is administered.
- 100: Patient is perfectly healthy; no complaints; no signs of diseases of any kind.
- 90: Minor signs or symptoms of the disease are present, but the patient can carry out normal daily activities.
- 80: Some signs or symptoms of the disease may be present at this stage. The patient can do day-to-day activities, but it takes some effort.
- 70: The patient needs to actively look after themselves and is unable to engage in normal activities or work in an active capacity, though they are still self-sufficient.
- 60: A patient with a score of may need some help around the house to get things done, but they are able to handle their personal needs by themselves.
- 50: These patients require a considerable amount of help to get things done as well as frequent medical attention.
- 40: Infirm. Patients with a score of 40 require special attention and support from others on a regular basis.
- 30: A score of 30 shows that a patient is severely disabled. Hospitalization would suit them best, but death is not imminent.
- 20: Hospitalization and active supportive treatment are required for a patient with a score of 20.
- 10: On the verge of death. Patients with a score of ten have little to no hope as the body processes leading to death are occurring with great speed.
- 0: The patient has passed on.
When Is the KPS Test Administered?
The KPS test is administered to patients who are terminally ill to determine at what stage of life they are. A KPS scale for hospice patients is maintained, and KPS tests for cancer patients are also a must. But when is the test done? The KPS must be administered when patients are admitted to hospice. The Clinical Summary shows the KPS score in the appropriate place.
So, what is KPS? It is a test determining the amount of life left in a person. It is a morbid yet necessary tool, and now you know how to read the reports.