Supine Position

Written by Hollie Finders, RN
Hollie Finders is a registered nurse with years of experience working in the health care field. She has degrees in both biochemistry and nursing. After working with patients of all ages, Hollie now specializes in pediatric intensive care nursing. Hollie’s LinkedIn


Equipment needed: pillow.

  1. Perform hand hygiene.
  2. Explain the procedure to the patient and ask for his or her assistance in following directions.
  3. Lock the bed wheels and raise the bed to a comfortable working height.
  4. Lower the side rail on the working side. Ensure the opposite side rail is raised.
  5. Lower the head of the bed until the bed is completely flat.
  6. If the patient is in the prone position, turn the patient onto his or her side.
  7. Once the patient is side lying, decide if there is enough room to complete the roll onto the patient’s back.
  8. If there is not enough room, move the patient to the center of the bed while he or she remains in a side lying position.
  9. When there is adequate room, complete the roll by assisting the patient onto his or her back.
  10. Place a pillow under the head. If desired, place pillows underneath the arms and/or knees for support. A small towel roll can also be placed under the back to support the curvature of the spine.
  11. Ensure the patient is comfortable, return the side rails to their original position, lower the bed, and make sure the call light is within the patient’s reach.
  12. Perform hand hygiene.
  13. Document the procedure in the patient’s chart and report any changes in the patient’s condition to the nurse.

Important Information about the Supine Position

Supine position is a natural and comfortable position for most people. For this reason, it is a highly utilized position for nursing procedures. Unfortunately, this position puts pressure on many bony prominences that can lead to discomfort and/or pressure ulcers if the pressure is not relieved every so often (typically every two hours or less). The most commonly affected areas are the back of the head, shoulder blades, coccyx, calves, and heels [1]. The nurse’s assistant should always check these areas when turning patients and report any redness, irritation, or other issues to the nurse.



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.

Putting on Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment is worn to protect the mouth, nose, eyes, clothing, and skin from unwanted pathogens. In the health care setting, a patient’s condition often prompts the use of personal protective equipment; however, a health care worker is able to wear personal protective equipment whenever he or she deems it is necessary (e.g., during procedures with the potential for excessive contact with bodily fluids).

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.

Measuring and Recording Output from a Urinary Drainage Bag

Accurate measurement of urination (aka, the output portion of intake and output) allows medical personnel to assess kidney and bladder function. Changes in output quantity or quality can reflect health status changes including new-onset infection or renal injury.

Feeding the Patient

Not all patients will need help feeding themselves. Some patients will only need assistance opening cartons or cutting their food. To promote independence, always let the patient do as much as he or she can before assisting. It is vitally important that the nurse’s aide verifies that the patient receives the correct meal tray. Patients may have special diets that play a critical role in their health (i.e., pureed diet, gluten-free diet, food allergies, etc.). Feeding the wrong food to the wrong patient could result in serious complications.