ok guys...I am in my First Responder class and we all have a question...why are patients laid on their left side?

Seems no one has the answer. Our instructer hasn't a clue. When an EMT was asked his answer..."Because they told us to."

I have been trying to find the answer with no luck...anyone know??

PS...I get extra credit if I can get the answer and written proof!!



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Comment by Al (olddogg) Westbrook on October 26, 2009 at 1:11am
No,No ! James ,As a Medic rule # 2 in my Ambulance is "NO BARFING" ,rule # 1 is nobody dies !
(I work real hard on this one) and rule #3 is we don't deliver no babies ( 'cause it makes a hell of a mess !),
rule #4 is if you be nice I'll be nice,If you Aint nice ,I'll sit on you all the way in to the E.D.
Gottta love the job :) ,from the OLDDOGG@firehousemail.com
Comment by James Moulton on October 25, 2009 at 11:03pm
It is so when somebody upchucks the material doesnt go into the lungs if swallowed but back into the stomachso you can keep the airway open. as a basic I would also like to think thats where the parametic sits so aim correctly. lol
Comment by Vic Silverfish on October 25, 2009 at 10:45pm
Good answers above. The stomach is on the left side (more or less) and in our ambo, laying on the left faced you towards the bench seat.

If a patient has an embolism (air in the blood stream, for you supression only lot) laying on the left side will (in theory) trap air bubbles in the right atria, keeping them out of the left ventricle. The left ventricle is the big chamber on the lower left quadrant of the heart the supplies blood to the entire body. Also, by trapping air in the heart, you keep it the hell out of the lungs, brain and other organs!

I've heard that everything else being equal, chest wounds should be on the lower side to help prevent pneumothorax. Can anyone confirm? I'm not sure where this came from, and I don't have my EMT-B book in front of me.
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on October 23, 2009 at 1:46pm
I am most definitely right.
Look it up.
Comment by blair4630 on October 23, 2009 at 10:03am
Lt. Dan is also correct, although the stomach is an odd shaped organ, the way it is shaped, more so than the size on each side, makes the left side slightly less likely for emesis. Essentially though that's the idea. Also, you are correct about the inferior vena cava compression in pregnant patients. Also, Kali has a very good point, although this is not true in all ambulances, and probably the instructors are looking for the medical answer.

Why doesn't your instructors know?
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on October 23, 2009 at 8:20am
You lay the patient on their left side because the heart pumps blood out into the body from its left side.
However; when you sleep, they recommend sleeping on the right side.
Oh the medical mysteries.
Comment by Justin Scott on October 23, 2009 at 12:38am
i know that in pt's that are pregnant you want to place them on there left side so that the uterus dose not rest on the inferior vena cava, which would limit the amount of blood flow to the mothers heart and thus compromise the baby.
Comment by Justin Scott on October 23, 2009 at 12:33am
is this for all pt's or just pt's that are pregnant?
Comment by Misty Cummings on October 23, 2009 at 12:14am
Thanks for your help. We were discussing this in class tonight. We were wondering if there is a anatomical reason that patients are laid on their left side or if it was a general practice for EMS personell to keep everyone practicing the same procedures. It really got my interest, plus I'd love to get the extra credit!
Comment by Lt. Dan (1508) on October 23, 2009 at 12:08am
I also believe that the left side of the stomach is larger, therefore able to hold more of the stomach contents, reducing the chance or volume of vomit by containing it.

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