How many times have you had an intramuscular injection of a medication? Intramuscular injections are common enough, especially if the drug needs to be given only once or twice and in small volume. The injection usually assures full delivery and absorption of the drug with a minimum of trouble for both the patient and the person giving the injection, usually a nurse. But, no medical procedure is risk free, and an inept nurse can cause a lot of damage doing something that should almost never go wrong. I’ve probably ordered hundreds, if not thousands, of injections during the course of my medical career, even given a few of them myself, but never once had an injured patient.
The main potential problem with an intramuscular injection is sticking the needle into something other than muscle and then injecting the drug where it is not intended. The picture shows the sciatic nerve and, just observing the size and length of it, demonstrates that an injury to the sciatic nerve will cause a lot of problems. The sciatic nerve is easy enough to avoid, if an injection is given in the upper outer quadrant of the buttock.
Earlier this month, a court in Syracuse, New York awarded Tina Holstein $1,690,000 as compensation for a permanent sciatic nerve injury. Ms. Holstein was vomiting after she delivered at baby at Community General Hospital, and a nurse gave her an intramuscular injection of anti-nausea medicine. Unfortunately, the nurse injected the medication into Holstein’s sciatic nerve, which caused a permanent injury. Holstein now has lower back problems, difficulty sitting and standing for any length of time and limitations on her physical activities. Holstein, who is herself a nurse, was undoubtedly upset at being the victim of another nurse.