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.