Resources >> Browse Articles >> How to


How to Give an IM Injection

How to Give an IM Injection

Kathy Quan

When it is necessary to inject medication, the route is determined by the chemical make up and viscosity of the medication. Many times the route will be intramuscular (into the muscle) known as an IM injection or "shot’ as opposed to subcutaneous or intradermal injection.

The injection site will be determined by the volume of medication to be injected. Other considerations are the age of the patient, the size and weight of the patient and mobility issues. The patient’s ability to relax and cooperate can also play a role in determining a safe injection site. Needle size depends on factors such as the site, medication and size/weight of the patient.

Land marking of the IM site is essential to avoid nerves such as the sciatic nerve. For this reason, the dorsal gluteal site is often avoided because improper land marking can lead to damage of the sciatic nerve. With proper land marking it can be an effective site with less discomfort than other sites.

Choices for IM injection sites are the deltoid, dorsal gluteal, ventrogluteal, and vastus lateralis. In children under two years, always use the vastus lateralis (antero- lateral thigh.)

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: about 5 minutes

Here’s How:

1. Confirm the medication order. Check the dispensed medication with the order.

2. Gather supplies, wash your hands and prepare the syringe.

3. Identify the patient. Explain the injection order and procedure to the patient.

4. Wash your hands. 5. Continue to explain the procedure to the patient step-by-step as you choose an appropriate site and prep the patient for privacy. Prepare your supplies. Open swabs and a Band-Aid.

6. Don gloves. Swab the injection site with an alcohol pad. Swab in a circular motion outward from the intended site 5 cm. Allow the alcohol to dry.

7. Spread the tissue taut with your non-dominant hand. Have the patient relax and take a deep breath. As he inhales, insert the needle at a 90 degree angle in a quick dart-like motion.

8. Hold the syringe barrel with your non- dominant hand and draw upwards on the plunger. If you aspirate blood, withdraw the needle and prepare a new syringe.

9. If no blood returns, inject the medication at a slow steady rate to minimize discomfort.

Next: Removing the Needle >>

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.