Disclosures The authors have no potential conflicts of interest.
Sciatic nerve injury from intramuscular injection: a persistent and global problem
Article first published online: 27 JUL 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
International Journal of Clinical Practice
Volume 64, Issue 11, pages 1573–1579, October 2010
How to Cite
Mishra, P. and Stringer, M. D. (2010), Sciatic nerve injury from intramuscular injection: a persistent and global problem. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 64: 1573–1579. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02177.x
- Issue published online: 15 SEP 2010
- Article first published online: 27 JUL 2010
Background/Aims: An intramuscular (IM) injection into the buttock risks damaging the sciatic nerve. Safe injection practices need to be understood by doctors and nurses alike. The aims of this study were to determine if sciatic nerve injury because of IM injection is a continuing problem and to establish the availability of published guidelines on IM injection techniques.
Methods: Intramuscular injection related sciatic nerve injury claims to the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation between July 2005 and September 2008 were reviewed. Nursing organisations were surveyed to enquire about guidelines on IM injection. IM injection related sciatic nerve injuries in the medical and medicolegal literature (1989–2009) were systematically reviewed.
Results: There were eight claims for sciatic nerve injection injury made to the ACC during the 3-year study period; all were in young adults. Only one of the nursing organisations contacted had published guidelines on IM injection technique, and these related specifically to immunisation. Seventeen reports of patients with sciatic nerve injury from IM injection were identified comprising a total of 1506 patients, at least 80% of which were children. Nine court decisions finding in favour of the plaintiff were identified, all from the North American legal system. A broad range of drugs were implicated in the offending IM injections.
Conclusions: Sciatic nerve injury from an IM injection in the upper outer quadrant of the buttock is an avoidable but persistent global problem, affecting patients in both wealthy and poorer healthcare systems. The consequences of this injury are potentially devastating. Safer alternative sites for IM injection exist. These should be promoted more widely by medical and nursing organisations.