How to Transfer Patients from a Bed to Stretcher


Patient transfer is a task that needs careful execution. When performing transfers, proper body mechanics must be applied to make the task efficient and safe. Patients’ safety is always the number one priority, but that does not mean that you have to injure yourself in order to make it possible. Think of your safety as well. Set up a good plan on how to perform your maneuver before you do the transfer. This way the execution will be effective and injury-free for both you and your patient. Transferring a patient from bed to stretcher is quite a difficult task, especially when the individual is too weak to move. But then again, performing it with correct body placement is the key to a successful and secure transfer. Increase in manpower is also beneficial in doing transfers. So do not hesitate in asking for assistance when you can.

Things You'll Need

  • Stretcher
  • Draw sheet
  • Bed bridge
  • Lifting partner

Inform the patient about the procedure. Explain everything to the patient from the purpose of the transfer to the destination of the transfer. Letting the patient know about what is going on enables him to cooperate with the procedure. It also makes the patient feel that he is respected rather than being controlled.

Lower the side rails of the stretcher and position it next to the bed as close as possible. If the gap between bed and stretcher is more than 3 to 4 inches, use a bed bridge to fill the open space.

Adjust bed and stretcher to a working height. Make sure that the bed is at the same level as the stretcher.

Ensure stability of the bed and the stretcher by locking the brakes.

With the bed and stretcher close together, you stand on the side of the stretcher (to the direction of the transfer), while your partner stands on the side of the bed.

Lower the side rails of the bed and place the draw sheet at the back of the patient from the level of the shoulder down to the hips. If the patient is too weak to move the head, adjust the draw sheet to head level.

Check if the space in between the bed and the stretcher is clear of any obstructions before proceeding. This is important to ensure that the patients’ oxygen hose or intravenous line (IV line) is secure enough to transfer with the patient.

Instruct the patient to move closer to the side of the bed near the stretcher, then carefully assist patient all the way to the stretcher. Instruct the patient to do such procedure if he has enough strength to do so.

If the patient is too weak, grasp firmly on to the draw sheet, and instruct patient to tuck his chin to chest to prevent hyperextension of the neck when lifting is done. Then prepare the patient and your partner for the lift. Give a cue by doing the lift at the count of 3.

Transfer the lower extremity of the patient first and then bring the upper body next. Reassess the patients’ position on the stretcher. Make sure that he is comfortable and that his body is in proper alignment.

Cover the patient with sheet; elevate the side rails of the stretcher and release the brake.

Position yourself at the head of the stretcher and carefully push it to the direction of your destination.

Tips & Warnings

  • After the patient is safely transferred on the stretcher, make sure that his intravenous lines (IV lines), oxygen hose or any other support systems are working fine and are properly secured.

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