Nerve damage may result when intramuscular shots are given in the wrong spot

If you’re a hospital patient, telling a nurse how to do her job probably won’t win you any fans among the nursing staff. But it might save you from considerable pain.

A new report in the Journal of Advanced Nursing indicates that most nurses are not giving intramuscular injections correctly.

And here’s the worst part: Most of them KNOW they’re giving the injections incorrectly, but they do it anyway.

So what exactly is the wrong way? That would be giving the injection in the dorsogluteal (DG) buttock site. In other words, in the butt.

When injections are given in the DG site, there’s a risk of damaging the sciatic nerve. This is the longest nerve in your body, so injury to the nerve can be quite painful. Other possible injuries include muscle fibrosis, nerve paralysis, abscesses, and even gangrene.

The better place to give an intramuscular injection is on the side of the buttock known as the ventrogluteal (VG) hip site. The VG actually provides better access to muscle tissue and medication is absorbed faster.

So why do so many nurses go for the DG instead of the VG? Nurses who used the DG site said they’re more comfortable with the site and it’s easier to locate.

And there may also be an Old School vs. New School issue here. Most younger nurses have been trained to use the VG site, while more experienced nurses often use the DG.

More than 12 billion intramuscular injections are given every year. If you’re among those on the receiving end, try to steer the nurse away from your, well…receiving end.

“Most nurses don’t use recommended intramuscular injection site despite potential risks” Wiley-Blackwell press release, 5/9/11,

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