Where do I learn how to give an injection?
February 28, 2016 6:16 PM   Subscribe

I need to learn how to give an injection to someone else at home. The only way this will work is if I can learn from someone -- the recipient is already freaked out by needles and is emphatically not willing to be anybody's first pincushion. The only nurse I know lives 200 miles away and is not available for a hands-on tutorial; who can I talk to, or where can I go, for an option other than "practicing" on a member of my family?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If this person is receiving injections because they're under the care of a doctor, someone in their doctor's office is almost certainly willing to teach you. If it's a large medical practice or one associated with a local hospital, they likely have free programs to train caregivers in injections.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:18 PM on February 28, 2016 [14 favorites]

Not a snarky answer, I'm serious: once you go to the doctor or whomever, as rhizome suggests, practice on yourself. This is how I learned to start IVs.

If the patient is willing to be convinced by an orange, practice on the orange.

The key is to put the needle in quick and clean, with the same motion one uses to throw a paper airplane. THEN, only then, do you press the plunger.
posted by 8603 at 6:25 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

A common piece of advice for people with serious allergies is to pick up some oranges or chicken breasts and practice injecting into them with expired Epi-Pens. Per rhiannonstone, I'd say get the basic instructions from the doctor's office -- they certainly have someone to teach eg. new insulin patients how to do injections. And then you can practice a little more on food to get the feeling for it.

Just be careful how you dispose of any medication-contaminated food.
posted by Andrhia at 6:26 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

My husband helped give me injections while I was pregnant. They were blood thinners and it didn't really matter where they went. He gave himself a couple (not of the blood thinners, just of saline I think) so he could understand that better the pressure and whatever, if that makes sense.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:49 PM on February 28, 2016

When I learned as part of my training as a community health volunteer, we practiced on oranges, and then, with saline, on each other.
posted by umbĂș at 6:56 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are these intramuscular injections? If so, there's wonderful videos on YouTube which offer very careful instructions and a step-by-step visual guide for those unaccustomed to doing these sorts of injections. Doing a search for "intramuscular injection demonstration" brings up fantastic resources, including videos for each site you can perform an intramuscular injection. I highly recommend these. (disclaimer: I've been doing intramuscular injections on myself for 14 years)

Also, something that may help is if you get needles that are of the proper length for the kind of injection (and location) you're doing. This helps to alleviate the fear of going 'too deep' with a very long needle.
posted by stubbehtail at 7:10 PM on February 28, 2016

It is general practice that family or friends can be trained through insurance or for free. He just needs to ask his doctor.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:46 PM on February 28, 2016

The injectee's doctor will show you. The doctor wants to know that the person is getting their meds, and if teaching you is what has to happen, that's what will happen. When I had to learn, my doctor offered to teach a friend or partner. If it's intramuscular, you won't need to be walked through it more than once or twice to get it.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:18 PM on February 28, 2016

Nthing that the prescribing doctor should be able to teach you (rather a nurse in the office will). Our fertility clinic had a chunk of fake skin/tissue for practice. It was the same amount of resistance as the needle had for the real thing.

Things that helped (or would have helped) when Mr Curls was giving me intramuscular shots for 20 weeks of my pregnancy:
-don't joke or make glib remarks about the shot
-pretend to have more confidence than you feel
-have the person get into a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths, and do something on their phone during the process (I tweeted about getting a shot which distracted me from getting a shot)
-read up on the medication and know what to expect while handling it (if it's thick then it'll plunge slow which is nice to know before sticking a needle in someone's butt cheek and asking "is this supposed to plunge?")
-go in straight and swift, pulling out the same (seriously, pulling out at an angle burns)
-try not to let the person see the needles, especially if there's a large one for getting the medication out of the vial
-verbally walk them through the steps and go slow
-seriously, no joking about anything
posted by toomanycurls at 12:18 AM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh and if you do practice on food, try going for something with a similar resistance as the body part in question. An apple is probably too dense but a just ripe pear might work. You could also try on a roast. The #1 thing is getting the right force behind the needle stab so that it goes in but doesn't feel like revenge.
posted by toomanycurls at 12:30 AM on February 29, 2016

The pharmacist can also demonstrate and train, if you get the medication at a retail location.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:45 AM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Much good advice already. What type of injection are you talking about? If the syringe is an insulin syringe, there are automatic injectors. I used something about 20 years ago that looked like an "Inject Ease". It is a spring-loaded contraption that holds a syringe for you. You load it, and then press the button to drive the syringe forward, and then you still manually press the plunger. When I was younger, around 5th grade or so, I started using it so I could give my own injections. Since it is all automated, there is no skill dependence or learning curve, and it actually was more comfortable than having a person do the injection.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 8:11 AM on February 29, 2016

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