A patient's body may slowly slide when the person is in bed for a long time. The person may ask to be moved up higher for comfort or may need to be moved up so a health care provider can do an exam.
Moving a patient in bed
You must move or pull someone up in bed the right way to avoid injuring the patient's shoulders and skin. Using the right method will also help protect your back.
It takes at least two people to safely move a patient up in bed.
Friction from rubbing can scrape or tear the person's skin. Common areas at risk for friction are the shoulders, back, buttocks, elbows, and heels.
Never move patients up by grabbing them under their arms and pulling. This can injure their shoulders.
A slide sheet is the best way to prevent friction. If you do not have one, you can make a draw sheet out of a bed sheet folded in half. Follow these steps to prepare the patient:
The goal is to pull, not lift, the patient toward the head of the bed. The two people moving the patient should stand on opposite sides of the bed. To pull the person up both people should:
If using a slide sheet, remove it when you're done.
If the patient can help you, ask the patient to:
Body mechanics and positioning. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC. Clinical Nursing Skills. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Prentice Hall; 2011:chap 12.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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