An audit of ward nurses' knowledge of sepsis
Many of the patients with sepsis admitted to intensive care and high dependency units develop severe sepsis/septic shock in general hospital wards. If the Surviving Sepsis Campaign's aim of a 25% reduction in mortality from sepsis is to be achieved by 2009, then it is essential that registered nurses are aware of the standard definitions of sepsis, and the recommendations for its initial management. The aim of this study was to audit ward nurses' knowledge of sepsis against standard definitions and evidence-based management guidelines. An audit was carried out in one acute hospital to assess ward nurses' knowledge of sepsis. Seventy-three registered nurses from medical, surgical and orthopaedic wards completed a questionnaire about the signs and symptoms of sepsis and its initial management. The results showed that some ward nurses appeared to have a poor knowledge of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, severe sepsis/septic shock and some aspects of its initial management. Following the results of the audit, a variety of educational initiatives were introduced to raise awareness of the standard definitions and the surviving sepsis management guidelines. In conclusion, targeted education must be provided for nurses working in general wards if the Surviving Sepsis Campaign is to achieve its aim of a 25% reduction in mortality by 2009.