Current Content
Volume 40 - Number 6
November/December 2014

Knowledge and Recognition of SIRS and Sepsis among Pediatric Nurses
Alvin D. Jeffery, Karen Steffen Mutsch, and Lisa Knapp

Background: A large amount of research demonstrates the importance of key interventions in reducing mortality rates of pediatric patients with sepsis (Dellinger et al., 2008). Assessment and recognition of declining status must occur for interventions to be initiated. Of health care practitioners, nurses typically spend the most time with patients, and they must be knowledgeable in recognizing the systemic inflammatory response syndrome and sepsis while also being aware of the importance of prompt intervention. The literature does not discuss pediatric nurses' knowledge of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)/sepsis recognition.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the knowledge of acute and critical care pediatric nurses of SIRS diagnostic criteria, sepsis guidelines, and the importance of SIRS recognition.

Methods: This cross-sectional, quantitative, correlational descriptive study included 242 acute and critical care pediatric nurses at a 490-bed urban pediatric hospital. Participants completed an original questionnaire with face and content validity regarding SIRS criteria, sepsis guidelines, priority interventions, and attitude toward the importance of SIRS recognition.

Results: Findings demonstrated a significant knowledge deficit among participants in several key areas of SIRS/sepsis recognition. The mean score was 60.8% 7.4%. Item analyses demonstrated nurses easily recognize septic shock but have difficulty recognizing patients in earlier stages of the sepsis continuum. Significant confusion was evident regarding the role of blood pressure and serum lactic acid levels in diagnosing sepsis.

Conclusion: It is recommended that an educational intervention be created for acute and critical care pediatric nurses to aid them in recognizing sepsis in its earlier stages.