Developing nursing students’ decision making skills: are early warning scoring systems helpful?

Jacqueline McCallum, Lesley Price, Val Ness, Kathleen Duffy

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The Early Warning Scoring (EWS) System was introduced, and has been implemented internationally, to aid in the identification of the patient whose condition is deteriorating. Early identification of patient deterioration is of vital importance for patient safety. Consequently in the United Kingdom (UK) the National Patient Safety Agency (2007) suggests that all acute care nurses should use EWS systems to identify patients at risk of deterioration. Similarly, in America, the Institute for Health Improvement (2006) advocated the use of EWS in their campaign to protect patients from incidents of harm. Therefore how we teach this skill to students and how they become competent and confident in its utilisation, interpretation and subsequent clinical decision-making is crucial. This presentation or poster will debate whether the introduction of Early Warning Scoring Systems has aided or hindered student nurses in the development of the decision-making skills required to identify and manage the patient whose condition is deteriorating. This will initially explore the competence of student nurses in this area, and then consider related decision making theory. It will then conclude by proposing possible solutions to the utilisation of Early Warning Scoring Systems in the development of student nurses’ decision making skills.
Institute Health Improvement, 2006. The 5 Million Lives Campaign. Available at [accessed 9th June 2011]
National Patient Safety Agency, 2007. Recognising and responding appropriately to early signs of deterioration in hospitalised patients. [accessed 8th November 2010]
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • nursing students
  • decision making skills
  • scoring systems


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