Pain Medication at Home: The Steps of Giving an Injection

Many medications come prepackaged, like Tubexes®. All you need to do is insert the cartridge into the holder and you are ready to inject. Other medications will need to be drawn from a vial. Here's how:

1. Check the label and calculate the dosage.

2. Swab the top of the vial with an alcohol wipe.

3. Pull the cover off the needle. Fill the syringe with air in the exact amount of the fluid you will withdraw from the vial.

4. Turn the vial upside down.

5. Insert the needle.

6. Inject the air into the vial.

7. Pull the plunger to withdraw the fluid.

8. Remove the needle from the vial and re-cap it.

When you give an injection, you should:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparing injection.
  • Select the site according to the physician's or nurse's advice.
  • Swab it with an alcohol wipe. It's important to rub hard, and allow the alcohol to dry before piercing the skin.
  • Pinch the area to be injected; use your free hand, if possible.
  • Quickly inject the needle 3/4 of the way in with a dart-like motion. Remember that subcutaneous injections are given at 45° angle; intramuscular ones are injected straight in.
  • Pull the plunger out slightly and check for blood in the syringe.
  • If there is no blood, slowly inject the medicine.
  • If you do get blood in the syringe, withdraw the needle and choose a slightly different spot.
  • Dispose of the needle in a safe place!

It is important to practice your technique before you give yourself or someone else a shot.

Read Pain Medication at Home-Top Do's and Dont's


Editor's Note: Adapted from A Comprehensive Guide for Cancer Patients and Their Families. Bull Publishing Company: Palo Alto, CA, 1980. Selection authored by Lizabeth Light, BSN.

Ernest Rosenbaum

Ernest Rosenbaum, MD, is an oncologist affiliated with Stanford University and with the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco, where he has developed protocols for supportive care and clinical practices. See full bio