Intramuscular injections are administered by seven out of 10 hospital nurses in the dorsogluteal (DG) buttock site despite the potential risks of causing sciatic nerve damage, a study found.
The research also discovered that only 14% of nurses applied the injection to using the ventrogluteal (VG) hip site, which is recommended in nursing literature.
Researchers in Canada targeted medical staff through a postal questionnaire, and received responses from 264, or 40% of people.
They found that the recommended VG site advice was more likely to be followed by younger nurses who were newer to the profession than those who had more experience.
The study, published in the May issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing, also discovered that out of those using the DG site, 25% did not know about the possible nerve damage risks.
“Recent nursing literature suggests that the VG site is preferable because it is located away from major nerves and muscles, can provide better access to muscle tissue and offers faster medication uptake” says lead author Lorna Walsh, a nurse educator at the Centre for Nursing Studies, St John’s, Canada.
“It’s estimated that more than twelve billion intramuscular injections are administered every year throughout the world and unsafe injection practices have a significant impact on patient ill health and death.
“Complications can include skin and tissue trauma, muscle fibrosis and contracture, nerve palsies and paralysis, abscesses and gangrene.
“Although three-quarters of the nurses in our study said they were aware of potential nerve damage when using the DG site, this site was used significantly more often than other sites.”
The majority of nurses who took part in the poll were aged between 30 and 49 years and had been working in nursing for more than ten years.