How to use a bed pan according to certified nursing assistant procedures

Updated July 19, 2017

Asking for help to urinate or have a bowel movement when bedridden can be a humiliating experience for your patient. As certified nursing assistants, you are taught the proper and courteous way to assist someone who has to use the bathroom but is unable to get up and must rely on a bedpan.

Explain to the person that you are going to help him use the bed pan. This can ease any fear or uncertainty he may have.

Lower the head of the bed to the lowest position tolerated by the patient. The closer the bed is to flat, the easier it will be to roll the person to his side.

Put on disposable gloves.

Ask the person what side he is more comfortable rolling to. If the person has had any sort of injury to one side or a surgery, he may feel more comfortable and be able to better assist you with rolling.

Roll the person onto the side where he is most comfortable. When he is on his side, ask his to grab the bed rails (if available) to help him stay held onto his side.

Place the bedpan against the buttocks, ensuring that the curved edge of the bedpan is under the buttocks. This will be the part of the bed pan that looks lower in size than the other.

Ask the patient to roll back, ensuring that the bed pan stays in place by keeping your hand on the bed pan until the patient is almost completely rolled back over.

Elevated the person's head on the bed slightly into more of a sitting position. This may make it easier for him to relieve himself.

Give the patience privacy. Make sure he has a call light button or other means of contacting you when finished.

Lower the head of the bed to a flat position, if possible.

Ask the person to roll over so that you can remove the bed pan.

Grab the bed pan with one hand and carefully remove it from the person's buttocks.

Place the bed pan on a chair, and place a towel over the contents of the bed pan. Never place the bed pan on a side table or a bed table.

Cleanse the person's buttocks or genital area first with toilet paper. If you are measuring the amount of urine, do not place the toilet paper in the bed pan. If the person has had a bowel movement, use a washcloth and towel to clean the area using the appropriate cleansing methods per your facility's protocol.


Always keep the patient informed as to what you are doing. This will help him feel more at ease. If a person is having trouble breathing, try to complete as many steps as possible, while giving the person breaks in between to catch his breath. Always assess the skin for any redness or open areas that may be developing.


Never leave a person alone who may be confused. You can still give privacy to the person without compromising her safety. Never leave a person on a bed pan for an extended period of time. This can lead to skin breakdown.

Things You'll Need

  • Disposable gloves
  • Toilet paper
  • Wash cloths
  • Towels
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About the Author

Carly Kullman has always been an avid writer, finally stepping out into freelance writing two years ago. She has a strong passion for health-related titles and loves bringing what she learns from her job in the ICU at the hospital into her writing. Carly also writes for Associated Content, Helium, and Suite101. Carly has attended Illinois Valley Community College for nursing courses.