Moving Patients from Bed to Stretcher (Gurney)

Patient safety is the main concern when moving patients from beds. But remember not to lift at the expense of your own back. And never move a patient by yourself. Two people can often do this move safely. The leader, who pulls, should be the stronger of the two. The helper holds the drawsheet, neither pushing nor lifting. An additional assistant could hold the patient's head and neck during the transfer. Use at least 3 people or a mechanical transfer device if the patient is more than 200 pounds.

Two steps showing healthcare providers moving patient from bed to gurney.
The leader should have one foot forward with knees bent.


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 so it'slevel with your waist. Be sure the wheels of the bed are locked.

  • Put a garbage bag, plastic slide board, or other friction reducing device between the bed sheet and drawsheet, 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 their arms across their chest. Explain the move to the patient.

Step 2.  Pull to edge of bed

  • Grasp the drawsheet 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 drawsheet 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

  • If safe to do so, have the helper kneel on the bed, holding on to the drawsheet.

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

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