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Administering a Subcutaneous Injection

Medication Mediaction Kardex or Sterile syringe and needle (size
Alcohol swab computer-generated MAR depends on medication being
Disposable gloves administered and patient)

1. Assemble equipment and check This ensures that the patient receives
the physician's order. the right medication at the right time
by the proper route.
2. Explain the procedure to the An explanation encourages patient co-
patient. operation and reduces apprehension.
3. Perform hand hygiene. Hand hygiene deters the spread of
4. If necessary, withdraw medication
from an ampule or vial as
described in Skills 29-2 and 29-3
5. Identify the patient carefully. Check It is the nurse's responsibility to guard
the identification band on the against error. Gloves act as a barrier
patient's wrist and ask the patient and protect the nurse's hands from
his or her name. Close the curtain accidental exposure to blood during
to provide privacy. Don disposa- the injection procedure.
ble gloves.
6. Have the patient assume a posi- Injection into a tense extremity causes
tion appropriate for the most com- discomfort.
monly used sites.
a. Outer aspect of upper arm: The
patient's arm should be relaxed and
at the side of the body.
b. Anterior thighs: The patient may sit
or lie with the leg relaxed.
c. Abdomen: The patient may lie in a
semirecumbent position.
7. Locate the site of choice accor- Good visualization is necessary to
ding to the directions given in this establish the correct location of the
chapter. Ensure that the area is not site and avoid damage to the tissues.
tender and is free of lumps or Nodules or lumps may indicate a pre-
nodules. vious injection site where absorption
was inadequate.

8. Clean the area around the injection Friction helps to clean the skin.A clean
site with an alcohol swab. Use a area is contaminated when a soiled
firm circular motion while moving object is rubbed over its surface.
outward from the injection site.
Allow the antiseptic to dry. Leave
the alcohol swab in a clean area
for reuse when withdrawing the
9. Remove the needle cap with the The cap protects the needle from
nondominant hand, pulling it contact with microorganisms. This
straight off. technique lessens the risk of an
accidental needlestick.
10. Grasp and bunch the area sur- This provides for easy, less painful
rounding the injection site or entry into the subcutaneous tissue.The
spread the skin at the site. decision to pinch or spread tissue at
the injection site depends on the size
of the patient. If the patient is thin, skin
needs to be bunched to create a
skin fold.
11. Hold the syringe in the dominant Inserting the needle quickly causes
hand between the thumb and fore- less pain. Subcutaneous tissue is
abundant in well-nourished, well-
finger. Inject the needle quickly at hydra-
an angle at 45 to 90 degrees, ted people and spare in emaciated,
depending on the amount and dehydrated, or very thin persons. For
turgor of the tissue and the length a thin person, it is best to insert the
of the needle. needle at a 45-degree angle.
12. After the needle is in place, Injecting the solution into compressed
release the tissue. If you have a tissues results in pressure against
large skin fold pinched up, ensure nerve fibers and creates discomfort.
that the needle stays in place as If there is a large skin fold, the skin
the skin is released. Immediately may retract away from the needle. The
move your nondominant hand to nondominant hand secures the syringe
steady the lower end of the syringe. and allows for smooth aspiration.
Slide your dominant hand to the
tip of the barrel.
13. Aspirate, if recommended, by Discomfort and possibly a serious re-
pulling back gently on the plunger action may occur if a drug intended for
of the syringe to determine whe- subcutaneous use is injected into a
ther the needle is in a blood vessel. vein. Heparin is an anticoagulant,and
If blood appears,the needle should bruising may be produced if the nurse
be withdrawn, the medication aspirates during injection. Because
syringe and needle discarded,and the insulin needle is so small, aspira-
a new syringe with new medication tion after insulin has proved unreliable
prepared. Do not aspirate when in predicting needle placement.
giving insulin or any form of heparin.
14. If no blood appears, inject the Rapid injection of the solution creates
solution slowly. pressure in the tissues, resulting in
15. Withdraw the needle quickly at Slow withdrawal of the needle pulls the
the same angle at which it was tissues and causes discomfort. Ap-
inserted. plying countertraction around the injec-
tion site helps to prevent pulling on the
tissue as the needle is withdrawn.
Removing the needle at the same
angle at which it was inserted minimi-
zes tissue damage and discomfort.
16. Massage the area gently with the Massaging helps to distribute the
alcohol swab. Do not massage a solution and hastens its absorption.
subcutaneous heparin or insulin Massaging the site of a heparin injec-
injection site. Apply a small ban- tion causes additional bruising. Mas-
dage if needed. saging after an insulin injection may
contribute to unpredictable absorption
of the medication.
17. Do not recap the used needle. Proper disposal of the needle protects
Discard the needle and syringe in the nurse from accidental injection.
the appropriate receptacle. Most accidental needlesticks occur
when recapping needles.
18. Assist the patient to a position This provides for the well-being of
of comfort. the patient.
19. Remove gloves and dispose of Hand hygiene deters the spread of
them properly. Perform hand microorganisms.
20. Chart the administration of the Accurate documentation is necessary
medication, including the site of to prevent medication error.
administration. This charting can
be done on the CMAR.
21. Evaluate the patient's response Reaction to medication given by the
to the medication within an parenteral route may occur within 15
appropriate time frame. to 30 minutes after injection.