An intramuscular injection is a method of delivering medicine directly into muscle tissue, rather than swallowing the drug and having it broken down and absorbed by the digestive system. This method also is distinct from an intravenous injection, in which medicine is introduced directly into the bloodstream. To administer an intramuscular injection, the user will fill a needle with a prepared solution, disinfect the injection site with an alcohol wipe, insert the needle into the muscle and inject the solution. After completing the injection, the user should apply a small piece of sterile gauze to the injection site to clean up any blood or fluid leaking from the hole and dispose of the used syringe in a needle-safe container. Before a person first attempts to administer an intramuscular injection, he or she should always carefully read any instructions from his doctor or pharmacy.
The first step when a person is going to administer an intramuscular injection is to check the solution for crystals or lumps and verify that it is the right color. Injections are measured in cubic centimeters (CCs) or milliliters (mls), and it is the responsibility of the person administering the injection to withdraw the correct dosage into the syringe. Some injection solutions will already have been prepared by the pharmacy, while others will come in a powdered form that will need to be mixed with either sterile saline or sterile distilled water, depending on the doctor’s instructions. Any person who intends to administer an intramuscular injection should wash his or her hands thoroughly before preparing the solution or filling the syringe and should use a clean, disinfected surface when handling the injection materials.
Before filling the syringe, the person should decide where he or she will inject the drug. Four muscle groups are commonly used as locations for intramuscular injections. These are the thigh, hip, upper arm and buttocks. The shots should be rotated among these areas and sides of the body to keep scar tissue from building up at the injection site. Not all of these sites are appropriate for all patients, so it is important to consult with the physician to verify which injection locations to use.
Once the injection site has been identified, the person administering the shot should fill the syringe, carefully following the package instructions. Some vials may require the user to inject an amount of air equal to the amount of solution to be withdrawn. The user should replace the needle cover until immediately before giving the shot.
When the patient is ready for the shot and the site has been disinfected, the user should prepare to administer the intramuscular injection. Many people prefer to hold the needle like a pen or pencil in one hand while using their other hand to slightly stretch the skin at the injection site. Using a smooth wrist motion, the administrator will poke the needle into the muscle, letting the needle do the work of piercing the skin.
Once the needle is inserted, the plunger should be drawn back slightly to aspirate the site and make sure the needle hasn't struck a blood vessel. If blood can be seen in the syringe, the needle should be removed and another injection site chosen. If no blood appears, the user should gradually inject the solution into the muscle tissue. Injecting the solution too quickly can cause additional discomfort for the patient.
After the solution has been injected, the needle should be withdrawn quickly but gently, and a piece of sterile gauze should be applied to the injection site. The syringe should be disposed of in a sealed, needle-proof container. The patient should be monitored for redness, swelling, bleeding and other adverse reactions for at least 15 minutes after the intramuscular injection is administered.