Research Paper| Volume 22, ISSUE 2, P119-125, June 2019

A survey of sepsis knowledge among Canadian emergency department registered nurses

Published:February 11, 2019DOI:



      With the rise of patients with sepsis presenting to emergency departments, emergency nurses, as frontline healthcare workers, require current clinical knowledge of sepsis. The aim of this study was to assess emergency department registered nurses’ knowledge of sepsis and their perspectives of caring for patients with sepsis.


      A descriptive cross-sectional survey was used to survey Registered Nurses from four emergency departments in a western Canadian city (N = 312).


      The majority of nurses scored poorly on questions examining knowledge of systemic inflammatory response syndrome variables associated with sepsis, and sepsis definitions, general knowledge, and treatment (mean score 51.8%). Nurses acknowledged their lack of knowledge and indicated a desire for further sepsis education. Challenges in providing sepsis-related care concerned perceived heavy workloads and clinical implications related to the patient's status.


      Educational programs and coaching approaches that maximize nurses’ abilities to enhance their decision-making with regards to early assessment and appropriate intervention for persons with sepsis are needed. Such multifaceted approaches would acknowledge nurses’ existing knowledge and provide practical supports to help nurses extend and mobilize their knowledge for everyday decision-making within the complex clinical environment of the emergency department.


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