AskDefine | Define gurney

Dictionary Definition

gurney n : a metal stretcher with wheels

User Contributed Dictionary



Unknown. Possibly from Gurney cab, a type of horse-drawn cab on wheels named after Theodore Gurney, the US inventor credited with creating and patenting it in about 1883.



  1. A stretcher having wheeled legs.
    • 2001, Joyce Carol Oates, Middle Age: A Romance, Fourth Estate, paperback edition, page 22
      Yet her vision has narrowed strangely (good, for she was in a medical facility, if she were having a hemorrhage or a stroke it could not be happening at a more convenient time) so that she was able to see little in the fluorescent-lit space except the man who lay motionless on a gurney beneath the strongest of the lights.
    • 2005, Jeph Jacques, Questionable Content, Number 506: The Talk, Part 7
      I’m pretty sure I didn’t actively steer towards the tree, but… I don’t know. I just remember that wave of despair and then the EMTs pulling me out of the car and putting me on a gurney.


a stretcher having wheeled legs

Extensive Definition

A gurney, known as a trolley in British medical context, is the U.S. term for a type of stretcher used in modern hospitals and ambulances in developed areas. A hospital gurney is a kind of narrow bed on a wheeled frame which may be adjustable in height. For ambulances, a collapsible gurney is a type of stretcher on a variable-height wheeled frame. It is usually covered with a disposable sheet to aid in preventing infections. The key value of which is to facilitate moving the patient and sheet onto a fixed bed or table on arrival at the emergency room. Both types may have straps to secure the patient.
The name gurney comes from its similarity to a horse-drawn cab patented in the U.S. in 1883 by J. Theodore Gurney. Advanced models of collapsible gurneys have a lower frame that can fold up on contact with the rear deck of the ambulance, and have a securing device that mates with a counterpart inside the ambulance to keep it from moving during transport. Shelves, hooks and poles for medical equipment and intravenous medication are also frequently included.
Gurneys in hospitals come in two types:
  1. Non-power assisted: Totally manually powered.
  2. Power assisted: Uses a small motor to help amplify your push energy. Usually used in bariatrics departments with heavy patients.
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