NurseSim

Administering a Subcutaneous Injection

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A subcutaneous injection is administered into the bottom layer of skin directly below the dermis and epidermis, known as the subcutis, using a needle and syringe. Medications that may be administered subcutaneously include insulin, vaccinations and growth hormone.

This route of delivery is suitable for medications where client treatment benefits from slower, more sustained absorption rates than is possible through intramuscular injection, but quicker than is possible via a transdermal patch, for example.

Subcutaneous injections can be administered into the subcutaneous tissue of the arms, legs and abdomen. Repeated injections will require that the site for injection be rotated in order to keep the tissue healthy. Bruised, inflamed or swollen sites should be avoided when selecting a site.

Common administration sites include the:

  • outer aspect of the upper arm
  • upper anterior aspect of the thighs
  • lower abdominal wall, avoiding 2 cm around the umbilicus (most common site for insulin)
  • upper back
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