Ahhh I remember it well. It was the 2nd semester of my RN diploma program. We were learning about injections. Being instructed on the difference between a subcutaneous injection and an intramuscular injection. I vaguely remember thinking to myself… “There’s a difference??! I thought all needles were the same?”. I had visions of those wickedly eerie hypodermic needles you see in movies or parodies that were as long as your arm.
After the class lecture, it was time for the skills lab. It was simply a live demonstration and video instruction on the proper technique and skill set broken down into its most basic parts on how to safely administer a subcutaneous injection. We had just learned that the subcutaneous injection, or SQ for short (pronounced sub-que) was the more common of the two. SQ? Sub-Que?? Whahhtthhe?? How the heck did they get SQ out of subcutaneous? I thought to myself “I’m never gonna remember that?! Do these medical abbreviations get better? And make more sense??”
(LITTLE DID I KNOW).
Anyhoo… back to the whole live demonstration. What puzzled me was the fact that it was just the instructor up at the front of the class, alone with just a table in front of her, supplies on the one side and an orange on the other.
“Why the heck is there an orange up there??” “Where the heck is the patient? You know, the person receiving the injection??”
What does a piece of fruit have to do with SQ injections???
I come to find out the orange was our ‘patient’ and that we were to take an orange home with us and practice over and over again, injecting the orange with saline. The “darting” action that is commonplace with administering injections is best practiced on the firm outer surface of an orange peel apparently?
They figured if you can dart a needle through an orange peel, you can dart a needle through human skin??
That poor orange never had a chance.
By the time I was through with that thing It looked like it had been through a war. It was full of so many holes that the peel started whistling in the wind.
I never for the life of me figured out why they picked an orange? Did they think an orange and its peel resembled human skin in some warped way? Because I’m here to tell you, 8 years later I haven’t met a patient who had orange peel-like skin.
I must admit, that the orange experience definitely taught me to firmly “dart” when administering a SQ injection so as to minimize the patient’s discomfort as well as potential prevent ecchymosis around the insertion site.
An Orange?? Maybe it’s because the tip of most insulin SQ needles is the color orange?
Well, that’s my theory, and I’m stickin’ to it.