Discharge Instructions: Giving an Intramuscular (IM) Injection in the Buttock

Your health care provider has prescribed a medication that must be given by intramuscular (IM) injection. IM injections use a needle and syringe to deliver medication to large muscles in your body. IM injections are usually given in the buttock, thigh, hip, or upper arm.

You were shown how to perform an IM injection in the hospital. If you did not receive an instruction sheet covering those general steps, ask for one. This sheet is to remind you or your caregiver  how to give an IM injection in the buttock. Injections in the buttock area are also called gluteus medius or dorsogluteal injections. Giving an injection in this area of the body requires the help of another person.

Outline of lower back, buttocks, and legs with hip bones showing. Dotted line around upper left quadrant of area highlights injection zone.


Name of your medication: ____________________________________________.

Amount per injection: ___________________________________________.

Times per day: __________________________________________.

Before you Begin

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after all IM injections.

  • Prepare your medication as you were shown by the doctor or nurse.

Locate and Prepare an Injection Site

  • Start by dividing the buttock into 4 quarters. First divide the buttock in half from top to bottom and then in half from side to side.

  • The injection will be given in the upper outer quarter. You should be able to feel a curved bone in this quarter. The injection will go in this quarter below the curved bone.

  • Prepare the site as you were shown by your doctor or nurse. (See the general instruction sheet on giving yourself an IM injection. If you did not receive this sheet, ask for one.)

Inject the Medication

  • Stretch the skin tight.

  • Hold the syringe like a dart. Insert the needle at a right (90°) angle to your skin.

  • Give no more than 3 ml (or cc) of medication in this site. If the prescribed dose is more than 3 ml, you will need to give the injection in two parts.

  • Dispose of the materials as you were shown by your doctor or nurse.

  • Wash your hands.

Medicine that comes in a container for a single dose should be used only 1 time. If you use the container a second time, it may have germs in it that can cause illness. These illnesses include hepatitis B and C. They also include infections of the brain or spinal cord (meningitis and epidural abscess).


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to Call Your Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Needle that breaks off in the injection site

  • Problems that keep you from giving yourself the injection

  • Bleeding at the injection site that won’t stop

  • Severe pain at the injection site

  • Medication injected into the wrong area

  • Rash or swelling at the injection site

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fever above 101.0°F (38.3°C)