Offering the Bedpan

Written by Amanda R. McDaniel, MS, BSN, RN
Amanda is a BSN/RN with a MS in Physiology and a BA in English. She worked as a medical writer in the pharmaceutical industry for 11 years before pursuing a career in nursing. She now works as a nurse on a NeuroTelemetry unit and continues to write and edit on a freelance basis. Amanda’s LinkedIn

When a resident is bed-bound, they must use a bedpan to urinate and defecate. This can be embarrassing for the resident, so it should be done with sensitivity to the resident’s privacy and dignity.

There are two types of bedpans. A regular bedpan is the deeper and more rounded of the two. A fracture pan has a relatively flat upper end with a trough at the lower end. Fracture pans are used for residents who have difficulty, or restrictions against, moving their hips and/or backs.

  1. Gather your supplies.
    • Gloves
    • Appropriate bedpan
    • Toilet tissue or disposable wet wipes
    • Clean bedding (if needed)
  2. Provide the resident with privacy by closing the door or curtain.
  3. Don gloves.
  4. Raise the bed to a comfortable working height.
  5. The resident should be lying on their back (supine).
  6. Remove the top bedding to provide access.
  7. If the resident can help with the process:
    • Raise the bed to Semi-Fowler’s position.
    • Have the resident flex their knees and keep their feet flat on the bed.
    • The resident should then raise their hips.
    • Slide the bedpan under the resident’s bottom. The trough of the bedpan should be toward the foot of the bed. Do not force the bedpan into place.
    • Have the resident lower their bottom onto the pan.
  8. If the resident is immobile or cannot help with the process:
    • Help the resident roll to face away from you. This may require logrolling the resident.
    • Place the bedpan against the resident’s bottom and hold it in place as you help the resident back to a supine position. Again, the trough of the bedpan should be toward the foot of the bed.
  9. Raise the head of the bed to the degree the resident can tolerate.
  10. Lower the bed back to the lowest position and step away to give the resident privacy.
    • It is VERY important to keep the amount of time a resident is on a bedpan to the shortest time possible. The edges of the pan can quickly create pressure wounds.
  11. If you leave the room, remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.
  12. To remove the bedpan:
    • Raise the bed to a comfortable working height.
    • Help the resident clean themselves with toilet tissue or wet wipes. Female residents should always be wiped front to back.
    • If the resident can help, have them lift their bottom as they did when getting on the bedpan. Be sure to have at least one hand on the bedpan to prevent spilling. Slide the bedpan from under the resident.
    • If the resident cannot help, lower the head of the bed. Help the resident roll to face away from you. This may require logrolling the resident. Be sure to have at least one hand on the bedpan to prevent spilling. Slide the bedpan from under the resident.
    • Help the resident back to a comfortable position and perform hand hygiene.
  13. Change the resident’s linens if they have become soiled.
  14. Lower the bed back to lowest position.
  15. Note the type and quantity of waste in the bedpan. Dispose of the waste in the toilet and clean or dispose of the bedpan per institutional policy.
  16. Remove gloves and Perform hand hygiene.
  17. Document the procedure and waste per institutional policy. Report any difficulties or change in elimination pattern (ex. diarrhea or blood-tinged urine) to the nurse per unit policy.


Bowel elimination and gastric intubation. (2014). In A. G. Perry, P. A. Potter, and W. R. Ostendorf (Eds), Clinical nursing skills & techniques (8th ed., pp. 844-848). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.

More Resources

Fowler’s Position

Fowler’s position is used when a patient is eating, is having difficulty breathing, or is ordered by a doctor. This position is easily recognized because the patient will be sitting äóìstraight up.äó Semi-Fowlers is sitting äóìhalf-way up,äó and is used when patients cannot be laid flat, but wishes to be in a more relaxed position than Fowler’s.

Tympanic Membrane Temperature with Electronic Thermometer

A tympanic membrane thermometer uses an infrared sensor to measure the temperature of the tympanic membrane (ear drum). This type of thermometer is considered an accurate and reliable predictor of a patient’s core temperature because the tympanic membrane’s blood supply is sourced from the carotid artery, which is the same artery that carries blood to the hypothalamus in the brain.

Transferring the Resident from a Bed with a Mechanical Lift

A mechanical lift is used to transfer residents who cannot support their own weight. When used properly, mechanical lifts prevent injuries for both residents and health care workers. It is important that a nurse’s assistant be trained to use the mechanical lift before attempting to operate it. Most facilities require at least two health care workers to assist when using a mechanical lift.

Dressing and Undressing a Patient

Patients who have suffered a stroke or have weakness or injury to one side of their body may struggle with dressing and undressing. In order to help these patients regain their strength and independence, it is important that the nurse’s aide only assist them as needed. The nurse’s aide may need to teach patients how to dress and undress safely with their limitations.

Applying a Condom Catheter

Condom catheters are used for men who are incontinent. These catheters are external and are meant to be used short-term and changed daily.