September 21, 2023 | Terry Smith

What are the benefits of using low-height stretchers in emergency departments?

What is a low-height patient stretcher?

A low-height patient stretcher is a hospital stretcher specifically designed with a mattress platform that descends to a particularly low height. 

There is no set definition for how low a ‘low-height’ stretcher has to be, but currently, the lowest height stretchers in the UK are the Howard Wright M9 Stretcher, which has a minimum height of 350mm, and the MultiFlow Stretcher from Felgains, which has a lower minimum height of 340mm.

The MultiFlow Low Stretcher from Felgains


What are the benefits of using low-height stretchers in emergency departments?


1. Reduces the risk of falls

Falls are the most frequently reported incident affecting hospital inpatients, with around 250,000 falls occurring in inpatient settings each year in England alone (NHS Improvement)1

Low beds and stretchers are widely accepted as tools to effectively prevent falls and reduce the risk of fall-related injury. A lower mattress platform height allows patients to get on and off the stretcher more easily, reducing the need for patients to climb or descend from a higher surface and decreasing the risk of falling during transfers. 

Due to the shorter fall height, and subsequent lower impact force, the risk of the patient actually injuring themselves as a result of falling is also significantly reduced. 


2. Enables easier mobilisation

A low-height patient stretcher like the MultiFlow makes it much easier for the patient to get in and out of the stretcher themselves, making it easier for them to self-mobilise as soon as they are able to. 

Traditionally, patients in the ICU are kept sedated and bedridden to minimize stress and complications, but by implementing low-height stretchers in emergency departments and in ICU, patients will be able to mobilise quicker, resulting in faster discharge, better patient flow, and better outcomes for the patients themselves. 

A study from the American Geriatrics Society in 205 found that older adults who were able to self-mobilize were more likely to be discharged from the hospital sooner and have a better quality of life after discharge. The study also found that self-mobilization was associated with a decreased risk of falls and readmission to the hospital.2


3. Increases efficiency and improves patient flow

Being able to safely mobilise a patient directly from a hospital stretcher is quicker than having to transfer the patient onto another surface or having to use equipment such as a hoist. 

This, combined with the benefits of easier mobilisation, results in more patients being seen, treated, and transferred or discharged in a shorter period of time, increasing efficiency and improving patient flow in your hospital. 





[2] The Impact of Self-Mobilization on Outcomes in Older Adults”(Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2015).



Related articles

What is patient flow? Statistics, challenges, and consequences of poor patient flow in the NHS

How does a low-height stretcher enable early mobilisation in hospitals?

How do patient stretchers improve efficiency and patient flow in hospitals?



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