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When a Patient Falls

Once the momentum has started, it’s almost impossible to stop a patient from falling. By trying to do so, you can injure your back. Instead, guide the patient to the ground; then get help to move the patient back to a bed or stretcher.

Guiding the fall

Help falling patients to the floor with as little impact as possible. If you’re near a wall, gently push the patient against it to slow the fall. If you can, move close enough to “hug” the patient. Focus on protecting the patient’s head as you move down to the floor. Then call for help.

Healthcare provider guiding falling patient to floor.

Moving a fallen patient

Patients who’ve fallen may feel dizzy or faint. Reassure them as you determine whether they’ve been injured. If so, tend to the injury before doing anything else. Evaluate the patient systematically (from head to foot). Wipe up any spills. If the patient isn’t injured, you can prepare for the move back to a bed or stretcher. Get help. Four or more people may be needed. A mechanical lift may be the best choice if the patient has already had a stroke or is not independent.

Step 1. Roll onto blanket

  • Roll the patient onto his or her side.

  • Put a blanket under the patient and roll the patient onto it.

  • Position 2 or more people on each side of the patient.

Man lying on a partially rolled up blanket on floor. Healthcare provider kneeling beside man and rolling him onto one side.

Step 2. Lift from floor

  • Kneel on 1 knee and grasp the blanket.

  • On a count of 3, lift the patient and stand up.

  • Move the patient onto a bed or stretcher.


Four healthcare providers holding edges of blanket with patient inside. They are kneeling on one knee ready to lift patient.

Remember: Be proactive; assess and identify a patient as a fall risk and start intervention to prevent a fall.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Hurd, Robert, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2018
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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