February 14, 2023 | Terry Smith

What Is The Best Way To Laterally Transfer A Patient In Radiology? – Slide sheets, Air-assisted, and Rollboards Compared

Lateral patient transfers are carried out frequently in radiology and imaging departments, with the vast majority of patients needing to be transferred from a patient trolley to an imaging table, and vice versa once the procedure has been completed.

There are a number of ways the lateral transfer can be carried out, and in this article, we will be comparing the following methods for lateral transfers in radiology:

Method One: Using slide sheets to laterally transfer a patient

A slide sheet is a friction-reducing sheet to enable movement and repositioning of a patient in bed.  Using slide sheets is a simple and effective way to carry out a number of different tasks, however, there are a number of downsides to using slide sheets.

Advantages of using slide sheets

  • Easy to use and train. The main advantage of slide sheets is that they are a very simple product and have become embedded in the patient-handling world. As a result, the vast majority of nurses and hospital staff would be familiar with using slide sheets, making implementation straightforward.
  • Versatile. There’s no denying that slide sheets are very versatile, and many patient repositioning tasks can be achieved with slide sheets when used correctly.

Disadvantages of using slide sheets

  • Risk of staff injury. The forces required to transfer a patient using slide sheets are higher compared to using an air-assisted device or a Rollboard. This brings a higher risk of injury to staff.
  • Requires more staff to carry out a transfer, due to the increased effort and force needed to use the slide sheets. 


Method Two: Using air-assisted transfer devices

Air-assisted transfer devices such as the HoverMatt are typically inserted under a patient and inflated using a pump. Micro perforations underneath allow the staff to transfer the patient from one surface to another with very minimal physical effort. 

Advantages of using an air-assisted transfer device

  • Very low force is required. Air-assisted transfer devices like the HoverMatt reduce the force required to move patients by 80-90%1, which lowers the risk of injury to staff.
  • Requires fewer staff to carry out a transfer, due to the lower forces required to transfer a patient, resulting in improved usage of staff resources.
  • Comfortable for the patient.
  • Radiolucent. Imaging and MRI compatible for artefact-free imaging.

Disadvantages of using an air-assisted transfer device

  • Too wide for the majority of radiology tables. Most air-assisted transfer devices on the market today are too wide for the majority of radiology/imaging tables, which means they will be very difficult to use correctly and effectively in radiology.
  • Complexity.  Compared to slide sheets or Rollboards, air-assisted transfer devices are by far the most complex to use, and subsequently, training staff on their use can be problematic, which could lead to a challenging implementation. Also, it takes longer to set up the equipment and carry out the transfer.
  • Costly. Air-assisted transfer devices are also the most expensive option when compared to slide sheets or Rollboards.
  • Noisy. Due to the use of a compressor and air to assist with the transfer, this method of transfer is the noisiest, which may cause distress to the patient.


Method Three: Using a Rollboard to transfer a patient

A Rollboard is an innovative alternative way to laterally transfer a patient in a way that is comfortable for the patient and easy for staff to use.

Rollboards consist of a single piece of polyethylene at their core, which provides a solid surface for the patient to glide over. The nylon fabric then operates like a tank track: the patient is laid on one side and then transferred over the core by the moving fabric cover.

Advantages of using a Rollboard

  • Very low force is required. The force required to transfer a patient using a Rollboard is similar to air-assisted transfer devices and much less than slide sheets, lowering the risk of staff injury.
  • Easy to use and implement. The Rollboard is a very intuitive and simple product for staff use; consequently, training and implementation are straightforward.
  • Radiolucent. The Rollboard is imaging and MRI compatible for artefact-free imaging.
  • Requires fewer staff to carry out a transfer, due to the lower force needed to transfer a patient, resulting in improved usage of staff resources.
  • Speed. Laterally transferring a patient with the rollboard is a very quick process, and there is no set-up time involved.


Which is best for radiology?

Whilst air-assisted transfer devices require the least force to use, the width of the equipment is going to present a problem when used in radiology.  And whilst slide sheets are easy for staff to use, they require multiple members of staff to be used effectively, and the risk of staff injury is higher. 

When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the three methods of lateral transfer shown above, the Rollboard is likely going to be the best option for Radiology, due to it being a very simple yet effective product that makes patient transfers easier for staff and more comfortable for patients. 



[1] https://hovermatt.com/products/hovermatt-single-patient-use/



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