CNA Job Duties: Transporting Patients

CNA’s have a lot of important responsibilities, but chief among them is the safe and effective transportation of patients to different locations. During the 80-hour training program that CNA’s attend, they must learn all about safe lifting techniques and why these techniques are so important. In this article, we’ll cover one of the most underrated (but important) aspects of a CNA’s job description: transporting patients.

Certified Nurse Assistants move patients every single day, especially in critical care positions (in nursing homes, emergency rooms, or hospitals). You can easily hurt your back, pull a muscle, or permanently damage muscle systems when you lift heavy or non-functional patients so learning the proper technique is important for both you and the patient. You only get one body and spine, so it’s important to always use proper lifting technique to help you care for your body the entire time you’re working- well after your training is completed!

When do patients need to be transported by a CNA?

“Transportation of patients” is a loosely termed word. Transportation refers to a grouping of movements required to provide care for patients. Certified Nurse Assistants learn many essential lifting skills included:

-Positioning a patient on their side

-Helping sit a patient up in bed

-Assisting a patient in standing up

-Helping a patient sit down

-Lifting patients in critical or unresponsive patients up or down a bed

-Placing a patient in a wheelchair

How are patients transported in healthcare facilities, nursing homes and hospitals?

There are several key pieces of equipment that make the transportation of patients possible, especially in situations where patients are especially difficult to transport, but three are absolutely essential:

-Lift belts

-Hoyer fit

-Sit-to-stand lift (often called “stand-up” lifts)

The problem is that these pieces of equipment are sometimes expensive, and not always available. Sometimes, even sheets and pillows can be used as lifting tools. Often times, the only guaranteed piece of equipment may be your lift belt, which makes it more important to know exactly how to lift a person and how to move your body when the time comes, so that you know how to react, and what you will do.

What training do nursing assistants receive to prepare them to transport patients?

Every single CNA training program should include training on how to lift and transport patients, but because each course is different, sometimes CNAs don’t effectively learn this crucial skill until they’re in the workforce. Many CNA programs are comprehensive, and include this training, including information about cables or cords that could injure both you and a patient when using a lift. You’ll also learn about how obstacles affect your ability to lift, and how to re-position patients to lift them in the most efficient, safe way possible. However, if your transporting and lift training is not part of your programs curriculum, you may want to ask an instructor to cover it outside of class. Most CNA training programs have extremely helpful instructors that are willing to go the extra mile to help you learn proper technique!

Another reality of the job is that one nurse might tell you what they think is the right way to lift patients, while another nurse might have a different technique. While they may differ some, most lifting and transporting techniques should follow the same fundamental training you learn in your CNA training. However, it’s up to you to use your best judgement to avoid injury when it’s time to make a decision about a potentially harmful situation. Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable with something, speak up and ask for help. It’s better to ask for assistance and be cautious than making a mistake that could have been avoided.

Does anyone else help assist nursing assistants in this job duty?

Many lifts require assistance, especially if a patient is large, or if they aren’t supporting themselves. In any situation, if you feel the need to ask for assistance to perform a lift properly, wait until help arrives instead of getting impatient. When in doubt, err on the side of caution, and do not attempt a lift by yourself. Don’t cut corners when lifting patients either, because you could easily injure yourself or the patient in the process.

What difficulties are presented when trying to transport patients?

Many patients have specific needs considerations, like a person’s weight, a patient’s feelings, or if they’re scared about the experience (sometimes being lifted up can seem scary). Another common factor to consider is whether or not the patient is injured, or seriously ill. If movement could cause pain or damage, it might be necessary to consider the way that a patient is positioned in a lift before actively moving them.

What are the steps to take to safely transport a patient?

There are many safety steps to consider when you’re moving patients. Always lock the wheels of the device you’re in, and make sure to take the person’s health into consideration every time you’re making a move.

If a person is sitting up in bed:

-Move their legs to the edge, pivot their body, and adjust them to the edge of the bed. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, with knees bent, and have your back in a natural straight position.

If a person needs help standing up:

-Face a seated patient, placing your knees shoulder-width apart, bent. Place your arm around a person’s back, clasping your hands around their neck. Grasp the belt when lowering a patient into a seated position.

If a person needs help sitting down:

Pivot the individual toward the chair, bend your knees, and then lower them down into a seated position. The individual should have both hands on the arms of the chair before they’re lowered down.

Every CNA Should Become a Master at Transporting Patients

Safely transporting patients is a critical skill that all CNA’s should master. While it largely depends on what type of healthcare facility you are working in as to how and when you will transport patients, pretty much all CNA’s will be transporting patients at least somewhat frequently. Learning the proper technique should not be too difficult, but applying it and getting comfortable with transporting patients may take some time. However, don’t stress about it. Just remember to ask for help when needed and speak up if something doesn’t feel right to you! Pay attention in training and practice proper lifting and transporting techniques when you first start working and you’ll be a pro at transporting patients in no time!