Background: Sepsis is the most common cause of death in critically ill patients in settings other than cardiovascular intensive care units (ICUs). Research shows that early detection is the best way to prevent sepsis progression and improve patient outcomes. Nurses can play a critical role in the treatment of sepsis using their knowledge and resources to detect the presence of sepsis at the earliest possible point in the progression of the syndrome. Baccalaureate nursing students were surveyed to assess students' beliefs and knowledge of sepsis and to examine the gaps in students' abilities to identify sepsis. Methodology: An instrument, consisting of 46 items, was developed and administered as a survey. The survey contained demographic questions, belief statements, knowledge questions on sepsis, and an unfolding case study designed to gauge students' understanding and recognition of sepsis. Data were analyzed for descriptive statistics. Participants were undergraduate nursing students recruited from baccalaureate programs across three campuses at the University of Central Florida. Results: The sample consisted of 40 participants. Over 75% (n=31) of participants were females, 42.5% (n=17) were over 27 years old, and 45% (n=18) had five to six years of previous college experience. Only 22% (n=11) of participants selected the three best measures to screen for sepsis at the bedside and 60% (n=24) identified the correct definition of sepsis. In the knowledge application section, 40% (n=16) of participants identified the correct patient in the beginning of the case study (i.e., most likely for developing sepsis or showing signs and symptoms of sepsis). Discussion: Most students reported that they were relatively comfortable with their abilities to identify sepsis in the clinical setting. However, there were some clear gaps in students' understanding of sepsis, particularly related to general knowledge about sepsis and recommended bedside screening measures. Education on sepsis is key to provide timely care to septic patients and to provide them with the best care possible. Conclusion: This study identified gaps in baccalaureate nursing students' understanding of sepsis. Addressing these knowledge deficits could provide students with the ability to identify sepsis earlier and improve patient outcomes in their future practice.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Guido-Sanz, Francisco


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


College of Nursing


Nursing Practice



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date


Included in

Nursing Commons