Moving Patients from Bed to Stretcher (Gurney)

Two steps showing healthcare providers moving patient from bed to gurney.

Patient safety is often the main concern when moving patients from bed. But remember not to lift at the expense of your own back. And, never move a patient by yourself. Two people usually can do this move safely. The leader, who pulls, should be the stronger of the 2. The helper holds the draw-sheet, neither pushing nor lifting. An additional assistant could hold the patient's head and neck during the transfer. Use additional assistants or a mechanical transfer device if the patient is over 200 pounds.

Remember: If you move a patient’s legs first, you can decrease the stress on your back by as much as a third.

Step 1.  Prepare to move

  • Put the head of the bed down and adjust the bed height. Be sure the wheels of the bed are locked.

  • Put a garbage bag or plastic slide board between the sheet and draw-sheet, beneath one edge of the patient’s torso.

  • Move the patient’s legs closer to the edge of the bed.

  • Instruct the patient to cross his or her arms across his or her chest, and explain the move to the patient.

Step 2.  Pull to edge of bed

  • Grasp the draw-sheet on both sides of the bed.

  • On the count of 3, lean back and shift your weight, sliding the patient to the edge of the bed. The helper holds the sheet, keeping it from slipping.

Step 3.  Position stretcher

  • Have the helper “cradle” the patient in the draw-sheet while you retrieve a stretcher.

  • Adjust the bed to be slightly higher than the stretcher. Then, position the stretcher, locking it in place.

  • Move the patient’s legs onto the stretcher.

Step 4.  Slide onto stretcher

  • Have the helper kneel on the bed, holding on to the draw-sheet.

  • On the count of 3, grasp the draw-sheet and slide the patient onto the stretcher. You may need to repeat this step.