Although transient loss of consciousness (TLOC) is a common problem, hospital care for patients with TLOC is characterised by the absence of a diagnosis or by misdiagnosis, as well as unnecessary hospital admissions and tests. We attribute this to increasing specialisation as well as to a blind spot for vasovagal syncope, a condition not claimed by any specialty. We suggest that all doctors seeing patients with TLOC, both in primary and secondary care, should be familiar with the presentations of the relatively harmless vasovagal syncope and the alarm symptoms of potentially life-threatening cardiac syncope. In this article we present some practical pointers to recognising these conditions and answer some frequently-asked questions regarding the diagnosis and treatment of TLOC.
Conflict of interest and financial support: potential conflicts of interest have been reported for this article. ICMJE forms provided by the authors are available online along with the full text of this article.