CNA Skill: Assists With Use of Bedpan

Find out how to assist with use of a bed pan in this important CNA skill. For patients who are unable to walk or stand, the use of a bedpan may be necessary.  Assisting your patient in the use of the bedpan can minimize embarrassment and prevent unpleasant messes.  Before you begin, wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs.  Greet your patient, and explain that you will be helping him/her to use the bedpan.  Ensure the patient has adequate privacy, and put on a pair of gloves.  Assist the patient into a supine position (laying on the back, face up), and then help him/her turn onto their side.  Follow these steps to make the process safe and efficient:

  • Place the bedpan against the patient buttocks, and then roll the patient back onto his/her back.  Ask the patient to spread their legs to ensure the bedpan has been properly placed.  Raise the head of the bed to make the patient comfortable, and then step away to allow the patient privacy.  Remove gloves and dispose of them properly.  Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • When the patient is finished, again ensure that the patient has adequate privacy.  Wash your hands and put on gloves.
  • Return the head of the bed to a flat position, and assist the patient in turning onto his/her side.  As you turn the patient, support the bedpan in order to prevent contents from spilling onto the bed.  If a spill does occur, you will need to immediately change bed linens.
  • Remove the bedpan and set it aside.  Ensure that the patients buttocks and genitals are clean to prevent infection.  Return the patient to a comfortable position of his/her choice.  Provide a damp cloth to allow the patient to wash his/her hands, if the patient wishes.
  • Measure the output and record appropriately, then dispose of the secretions as directed.  Ensure that the bedpan is either replaced or cleaned.
  • Remove your gloves and immediately wash hands for at least one minute.

Careful use of the bedpan will prevent infection and allow the patient to complete necessary bodily or bowel functions with a minimum of discomfort.  Try to remain professional as you assist the patient with this process, and ensure proper hand washing procedures are followed.

Expert Tip by Tanya Glover, CNA

This can be one of the most difficult skills for you to show your instructor. It is not because using a bedpan is all that difficult, rather it is hard to do in front of someone you know is mapping your every move and grading your performance. If you feel this way, just think of how your patients will feel!

When using a bedpan on an elderly patient, it is important to keep in mind that their skin is super fragile. You must take care not to slide the pan too roughly or you can damage their paper thin skin. When showing this skill during your exam, be sure to show that you understand how to be gentle yet firm.

When you remove a bedpan, do so with care because they can easily spill and this will be a mess for you to clean up and an embarrassment for the patient.

When you begin your new job, please remember that your patients were once just like you; independent and able to take themselves to the bathroom. From my experience, I can tell you that there will be several patients who will refuse the bedpan. This can be extremely aggravating to you when you have so many other patients to care for, but keep their dignity in mind. If there is any way that they can be taken to the bathroom or put on the bedside toilet, do it for them. Too many CNA’S force bedpans on patients for their own convenience. While they may feel justified in doing so, think of how horrible that makes their patients feel and ask yourself if that is what you would want your caregiver to do.

8 Responses to CNA Skill: Assists With Use of Bedpan

  1. necole December 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I think this is great that i can actually see someone practice with a live individual thank God for technology

  2. Michele July 26, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Good video, I didn’t see what she did with the wipe and toliet tissue, however after giving it to the patient. I usually encourage my students to put it into the bed pan when done. We also elevate the bed before giving the bed pan and then lower at the end of the skill.

  3. Debi Simas RN, DSS September 14, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    I felt she did a wonderful job. However, The written instructions above do not match how the skill was performed which could make some students confused. Depending on the agility of the patient, who many or not be able to lift themselves, the student demonstrated a correct way to place the bedpan It would all depend on how able the patient was to help position themselves, and what works best for them.
    Where did the student set the bedpan after removing it from bed? This is very important to show, (and I have found it to be practiced incorrectly in several different SNF where I have worked). Keeping the furniture in the room sanitary is very important to learn for infection control.

    • Therese January 3, 2013 at 1:24 am #

      I have looked at many resources and have not found a good answer. Could you please help me? Where is the proper place to put the used bed pan while helping clean the patient. Others have failed the exam for putting it on the floor. You mentioned keeping the furniture sanitary. Exam cram says to put contents in toilet. But what if toilet is a distance away even if just a few steps. Leaving a patient unclean is not right. Hartmann nursing care assistant book says to remove and cover and help clean patient if necessary. I want to pass the exam. Where is the correct place to put the used bed pan while finishing with the patient?

      • kyra July 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

        you put the bedpan in the designated dirty supply area

  4. Kathy September 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    I took the state test and failed because i put the bedpan backwards. The wider part was in the back just like the vidieo but they failed me for that. Your vidieo was very helpful but now i am confused on the right way. Any help from anyone that did bedpan on test would be helpful.

  5. Dezzy December 24, 2013 at 4:06 am #

    Hi. I am truly grateful for this website. I will be taking my exams in 2 weeks, and this website with its many skills have helped me gained confidence, especially with the checklist, which helps me know what the examiner will expect. Thanks again.

  6. Donnal February 5, 2014 at 4:29 am #

    I have been going through all kind’s of web site to prepare my self for the CNA testing.
    Watching all kind’s of videos. And reading I want so much to pass when I sign up to take the course.I want to do this because I want to be a GREAT!! CNA for the patient’s in taking care of them they right away always. I would want the same thing for my father or mother. My dad has dementia and Parkinson I want and need to be there for him.

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