Intramuscular injections are used so that the medication is rapidly absorbed into the patient's body. The absorption rate depends on the patient's circulatory state.

Usually no more than 5 mL of medication is injected for an adult and 3 mL for a child. If the prescriber orders a higher dose, divide the dose into two syringes.

Choose an injection site based on the size of the muscle with a minimum number of nerves and blood vessels in the area. These sites are:

• Dorsogluteal (buttocks)

• Vastus lateralis (front of thigh)

See Table 6-1 for more details.

Intramuscular injections use a 20 to 23-gauge needle that is 1 to 1.5 inches in length and a 1 to 3 mL syringe that is calibrated with 0.5 mL to 1.5 mL. Here's how to administer medication intramuscularly:

• Check the prescriber's medication order.

• Wash hands and then put on clean gloves.

• Properly identify the patient.

• Cleanse the area of the site in a circular motion, using using alcohol or betadine as per the agency guidelines.

• Flatten the skin at the injection site using your thumb and index finger.

• Insert the needle at a 90-degree angle into the muscle between your thumb and index finger.

• Slowly inject the medication.

• Quickly remove the needle.

• Gently massage the area (unless this is contraindicated by the medication).

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