How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection

April 07,2021

Subcutaneous Injection Technique


A nurse learns in nursing school how to give a subcutaneous (sub-q) injection. Giving a subcutaneous injection is a nursing skill that nurses must master to perform their jobs accurately. Nurses must have an exceptional level of expertise in human anatomy and injection techniques in order to administer these injections with the least amount of pain. Once nurses get the hang of giving a subcutaneous injection, they will likely be one of the requested nurses from patients receiving this injection.


How to Give a Subcutaneous (Sub-q) Injection


Subcutaneous injections are necessary for patients receiving certain medications. Patients who need medications such as epinephrine and insulin must receive their required dosage by way of subcutaneous injections. Nurses must use special needles to administer the injections to patients. These specialized needles are designed to enter the fatty area just beneath the skin’s surface.


The medications that nurses administer into the fatty layer under the skin by way of subcutaneous injections are absorbed over several hours. These medications require that patients receive a slow-release dosage over time.


Subcutaneous (Sub-q) Injection Sites


The legs, abdominal region, and arms are excellent areas to administer subcutaneous injections to patients. Nurses will suggest the optimal location for patients to receive their injections based on their personal medical needs.


Steps on How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection


  • Wash the hands thoroughly using soap and warm water. Washing the hands for 30 seconds or longer insures that the hands are clean and ready to administer the injection.


  • Put on a pair of sterile gloves after washing and drying the hands. Make sure to put on the gloves before handling the patient and the injection materials.


  • Gather the materials needed to give the patient his or her injection. The material needed include gauze pad, needle, medication, iodine swab, and alcohol swab.


  • Draw the correct amount of medication needed to administer to the patient. Mistakes can happen so it is a good idea to double check the amount of medication drawn against the patient’s dosage chart before proceeding.


  • Using gloved hands, remove the needles cap without touching the needle.


  • Using the iodine swab and alcohol, clean the injection site before giving the patient the injection. Use a circular motion when applying the iodine and alcohol to the skin. This motion moves any bacteria located on the skin away from the injection site. Allow the area to dry to eliminate stinging when giving the subcutaneous injection to patients.


  • Hold the needle in the same manner in which a dart is held.


  • Using the index finger and the thumb, pinch the patient’s skin at the injection site.


  • Inject the needle into the skin at a 90-degree angle at the top of pinched skin. Use a quick motion so that the patient does not experience a great deal of pain during the injection. Stabbing or slowly sliding the needle into the skin is not advised.


  • Once the needle is inserted, release the patient’s pinched skin. Use the free hand to stabilize the base of the syringe near the patient’s skin.


  • Release the medication in the syringe with the same hand uses to give the injection. Use a slow, steady motion when releasing the medication. Medications should take a few seconds to inject.


  • Apply a light amount of pressure to the injection site using a gauze pad as the needle is removed from the patient’s skin. This method will reduce the pain and discomfort that patients experience during the procedure. Hold the gauze in place for approximately 5 seconds before removing.


  • Nurses can minimize the pain that their patients experience during injections by doing the following:subcutaneous injection, sub-q shot, nurse, nursing.


Never reusing needles

  • Injecting medications once they’ve reached room temperature
  • Break the skin quickly
  • Remove air bubbles from the syringe before administering the injection
  • Use the same direction when inserting and removing the needle from the skin
  • Relax the muscles near the injection site
  • Video on How to Give a Subcutaneous (Sub-q) Injection


Complications from Giving a Subcutaneous Injection


There are minor complications that can take place during a subcutaneous injection. Patients may experience soreness, redness, or bleeding at the injection site that will go away in a short amount of time. Some patients may experience allergic reactions to medications administered through subcutaneous injection so it is important to check the patient’s allergies before giving the injection. At times, patients may experience blood in the solutions, and nurses should select another injection site to give the subcutaneous injection.


Nurses can easily master the skill of subcutaneous injection with practice. Experienced nurses know how to minimize the pain that their patients experience by using care when administering subcutaneous injection.