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Patient Transfer Techniques to Know

For patients who have limited mobility, healthcare professionals often have to help transfer them from surface to surface.

However, this isn’t always easy to do.

In fact, most healthcare worker injuries happen when transferring patients! Even more, approximately 60% of healthcare injuries happen because of overexertion, particularly when transferring patients. 

Transfers can occur when patients are moving in and out of a car, bed, chair, bathtub, wheelchair, or other. If the transfer is not done properly, there is a higher chance of injury.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of patient transfer techniques that are sure to keep both the patient and healthcare professional safe and comfortable during the move.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can successfully transfer a patient!

Patient Transfer Techniques

1. Assess Patient Mobility

Before moving the patient, it’s important to asses their mobility.

You should determine:

  • Can the patient support his/herself on his/her own?
  • How long can the patient support his/herself?
  • How much support will I need to provide in order to successfully transfer the patient?

Answering these questions will help you determine whether or not you are equipped to transfer a patient in the short distance between surfaces or if you will need additional help.

2. Conduct Transfers in Close Proximity

Firstly, it’s important that the surface you are transferring the patient to is close to the surface s/he is currently on.

For example, if you are transferring a patient from a bed to a wheelchair, make sure the wheelchair is pushed as close as possible to the bed. Likewise, if you are moving a patient to or from a toilet seat, chair, wheelchair, car, or other surfaces, make sure the patient does not have to travel far before reaching it.

Keeping transfer surfaces close greatly reduces the chances of injury. Moreover, it makes the transfer itself much easier for the caregiver and patient alike.

3. Communicate to the Patient

Communication is one of the most important patient's transfer techniques. 


Well, most injuries occur from a lack of communication. In fact, in 2015, in 2015, miscommunication alone cost the US healthcare system $1.7 billion and almost 2,000 lives

For example, some causes of injury include a sudden change in the patient’s alertness or a lack of preparation before a transfer. Therefore, if you don’t communicate with the patient, he or she may become startled or confused during the transfer.

Before you begin the transfer, it’s vital that you explain to the patient exactly what you plan on doing. It may even be beneficial to count to three before you actually begin the transfer. This way, the patient is fully aware of what is going on.

4. Brace Yourself

When transferring a patient, it’s important you have the right posture to minimize the chance of injury. Here are some tips to help you adequately support a patient in transfer:

  • Face the patient and keep him/her close to you. The farther away you are, the less stability you will give them.
  • Keep your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. This will help to stabilize you.
  • When lifting, use your legs, not your back. Otherwise, you could seriously injure your back, especially if you repeatedly lift wrong. 
  • Avoid twisting or rotating your midsection. Rather, use pivots or steps. Again, this will aid in stabilizing yourself when transferring patients.
  • Don’t let the patient grab hold of your neck. 

In the end, it’s important to remember not to transfer more weight than you can handle. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel unequipped to transfer a patient on your own. It’s always better to ask for help than to have a greater risk of injury.

5. Use a Gait Belt

Gait belts make transferring patients safer and easier. A gait belt is worn around a patient’s waist to decrease lumbar strain during the transfer.

Caregivers can grab ahold of the belt during transfer, making it easier for them to transport the patient. In addition, the belt provides the support a patient needs in order to remain safe and comfortable.

If available, always use a gait belt when transferring patients! Gait belts are an easy and safe way to transfer patients without the risk of a back injury.

>>Shop for gait belts here.

Need a Patient Transfer Device?

Transferring a patient from surface to surface can be a tricky scenario. However, with the appropriate patient transfer techniques and knowledge about how to transfer a patient, can be done without injury.

Moreover, many healthcare professionals find it is much easier to use a patient transfer device to help move the patient where s/he needs to go.

For example, lifts allow individuals to move from surface to surface with little to no effort, making it much easier for a caretaker to transfer the patient.

If you need to purchase a transfer device, contact Amica Medical Supply. This company specializes in providing individuals and facilities with high-end, affordable medical equipment that is sure to make patient transfer as easy and safe as possible. Give them a call at 1-855-557-5446 to learn more!

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