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.