Turning Patients the Right Way

side lying position mine Do you turn a patient toward you or away from you when you are rolling them onto their side? Does it really matter?  Yes.  Yes, it does.

When you roll a patient onto their side, their weight is not proportionally distributed – most of their weight lies along their back, from their head, down through their shoulders, back and buttocks to their feet.

side lying position

If you rolled the patient so that they are facing you, then the majority of their weight is on the other side of the bed from you. If that weight pulls them in that direction, you are too far away to stop them from falling. You would have to reach across the patient and try to hold them in that position – which is difficult at best and could cause injury to you or them.

By standing behind a patient and always rolling them AWAY from you, you maintain control over the majority of their weight. If they begin to roll back onto their back (due to gravity pulling their weight in that direction), you can easily intervene without risking injury to either party.

side lying wrong2Another note: You should NEVER roll a patient toward you so that their face is positioned eye-level with your crotch. This can cause emotional discomfort in the patient and result in inappropriate sexual conduct charges for you – even if you never meant anything by it. This is an inappropriate position for any patient to be in. By remaining BEHIND the patient, you are not putting them in this socially embarrassing situation.

Bottom line? Remain behind the patient when turning them on their side. Or, better way to put it…remain behind the patient’s behind.


Author: Patricia Ramsey, RN

Patricia Ramsey is a Registered Nurse in Florida. She has over 24 years of nursing experience in a wide variety of settings, including home care, physician's office and emergency care clinic, critical care, and nursing home/rehab. Click here to learn more!

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks. I enjoyed reading this article. It was very informative without boring me with a very long article.

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