Sepsis is one of the leading causes of death in U.S. hospitals, resulting from organ dysfunction caused by an inappropriate inflammatory reaction to an infection. Timely treatment with empiric antibiotics in the emergency department is crucial to facilitate positive patient outcomes. The Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) recommends initiating empiric antibiotic therapy within one hour of presentation to the emergency department. Some emergency departments have implemented sepsis management protocols to guide care and ensure timely treatment. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of a formal sepsis protocol in the emergency department on the time to antibiotic administration. A literature review was conducted using CINAHL, Cochrane Database, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, and MEDLINE. Results from one systematic review, eight quasi-experimental studies, and four quality improvement projects suggested that implementation of a sepsis management protocol in an emergency department may decrease the time to antibiotic administration. (< 10 = spell out) Eleven of the 13 articles reported decreased time to antibiotic administration by as much as 8-193 minutes compared to pre-protocol. One study met the SSC goal of 1 hour and reported a median administration time of 17 minutes. Time to antibiotics was influenced by protocols based on published sepsis guidelines, inclusion of antibiotic guidelines, nurse-initiated treatment, and education for emergency clinicians regarding sepsis management. Emergency departments should implement sepsis protocols adapted to their local institution to decrease time to antibiotic administration and reduce mortality of sepsis patients. Further research on how sepsis protocols affect antibiotic administration time is needed.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair

Bourgault, Annette


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing



Degree Program



Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Restricted to the UCF community until 5-1-2018; it will then be open access.

Included in

Nursing Commons