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Tuesday, March 17, 2015 12:16 pm

The Growing World of Medication Self-Administration…Injectables

It’s 2015. In the world of pharmacy, Specialty Pharmacy in particular, many medications require administration via an injectable route. Self-administration of injectable medication is becoming more common. This fact is often met with fear and trepidation by patients who can’t imagine themselves managing such a complicated task.

But, fear not! With training and patience …can’t resist a good pun 😉 …most patients can become comfortable with self-administration of injectable medications. The most common routes of self-administration in the home setting are subcutaneous (SQ or SC)/under the skin and intramuscular (IM)/into a muscle.  Other injectable routes of administration such as intravenous injection (IV) and infusion, require the patient, family member, physician or nurse to administer the medication directly into a vein. This can be done either at home, clinic or infusion suite. Intravenous administration is more complex, requiring a greater level of skill and equipment training.

Begin by relaxing; take deep calming breaths. (Photo credit: Kathleen Kvilhaug)

Begin by relaxing; take deep calming breaths. (Photo credit: Kathleen Kvilhaug)

Today, we will address the SQ/SC and IM routes of medication self-administration.

 Ready, set, go!

•Refer to the specific Instructions for Use for preparing and giving a dose of medication included in the manufacturer’s packaging.

•A room temperature solution is more comfortable to inject. Unless otherwise noted, let medication warm to room temp as instructed by manufacturer or warm the refrigerated medicine by gently rolling it in the palms of your hands for about one minute. Do not shake.

•It is important to keep your work area, your hands, and your injection site clean to minimize risk of infection. You should wash your hands prior to handling the syringe and/or vial.  Your work surface should be clean, well-lit and flat.

•DO NOT USE if medication is expired, remains cloudy after a few minutes at room temperature when it should be clear, appears a different color than the manufacturer states, contains foreign particles, or vial or syringe is cracked or damaged.

•Follow instructions given by your healthcare provider for preparing and filling the syringe with the prescribed dose. Lay the syringe on its side on your flat work surface until you are ready to inject the medication or follow other instructions if given.

•For Subcutaneous injection (SQ or SC): The best sites for giving a SQ self-injection are those areas with a layer of fat between the skin and muscle. You can inject medication under the skin on your stomach or thigh. DO NOT use the area near your waistline or within 2 inches of your navel. You should use a different site each time you inject medication to avoid soreness at any one site. DO NOT inject medication into an area where the skin is irritated, red, bruised, infected or has scars, stretch marks, or lumps.

•For Intramuscular injection (IM): The best sites for intramuscular self-injection are the thigh and upper arm. Rotate injection  sites to minimize risk of injection site reactions. Do not inject into an area of the body where the skin is irritated, reddened, bruised, infected or scarred.

•Dispose of used syringe and needle in an acceptable biohazard (sharps) container.