What Is a Gurney?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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A gurney is a type of bed used to transport hospital and trauma patients. These beds are typically adjustable, which makes transport and patient care easy, and they have wheels on them for easy transport. They can often be found in hospitals and emergency vehicles like ambulances.

Patient transport is often a necessity in the medical profession. A gurney is often used for this purpose, his usually consists of a mattress on top of a metal frame.

The metal frame on a gurney is usually adjustable. Both the head and feet of these beds can usually be raised at an angle to enable a patient's torso or feet to be raised. A patient can also be laid flat on his back, which is important when trying to transport a patient with a possible spinal injury.

A gurney will also usually have wheels on the bottom. These make transporting a patient from place to place easy. For safety reasons, there are also brakes on gurney wheels. These brakes can usually be engaged by pressing or pulling a lever with the foot.

Hospitals and emergency vehicles both usually have access to gurneys. Doctors and nurses use these types of hospital beds to transport patients from one area of the hospital to another. Emergency medical technicians also use them, and they are commonly found on emergency vehicles, such as ambulances.


A gurney found on an ambulance is usually collapsible. This means that emergency medical technicians are able to raise and lower the entire metal frame to load and unload patients. The legs of a gurney fall down when it is taken out of the ambulance, making it taller. When a patient is to be put onto the gurney, the legs collapse, lowering the mattress. In this position, gurneys can also be carried, which is usually an easy way to transport patients along uneven ground.

Extremely overweight patients sometimes pose problems with gurneys. Regular gurneys are only designed to hold a certain amount of weight, and very obese individuals may possibly cause them to break. Special gurneys have been developed for transporting large patients, and these are sometimes referred to as bariatric gurneys. These types of gurneys are usually made from very strong metal, and they are wider to accommodate larger people.


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