How to administer an insulin injection
Evidence & Practice Previous     Next

How to administer an insulin injection

Tracey Curtis Diabetes specialist nurse, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Portsmouth, England
Sarah Moutter Community diabetes specialist nurse, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Portsmouth, England

Rationale and key points

Effective insulin injection technique is essential to ensure optimal management of diabetes. Those who administer insulin should understand how it works, in particular its link to blood glucose levels.

This article outlines how to administer an insulin injection, including: the competencies healthcare practitioners require to undertake this procedure; the steps they should undertake to safely administer insulin; and the evidence base supporting safe and effective insulin injection.

Insulin can be injected using either an insulin pen or a syringe and vial. There are various insulin regimens available, such as basal only, basal-bolus and mixed insulin.

Potential insulin injection sites include the abdomen, thighs, buttocks or arms. The presence of lipohypertrophy at an insulin site indicates that another site should be used.

Insulin should be injected into the subcutaneous tissue at a 90-degree angle. The skin should be raised to reduce the risk of injecting into the muscle; however, this risk is reduced with the use of shorter needles.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help update your practice and ensure it remains evidence-based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How you think you could use this article to improve your practice in administering insulin injections.

How you could use this resource to educate your colleagues about administering insulin injections.

Nursing Standard. 32, 16-19, 41-46. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10855




Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared


Contributing to the How to series

To suggest a ‘How to…’ article, please email with a synopsis of your idea

For related articles search the website using the keywords

Received: 27 February 2017

Accepted: 14 September 2017

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Try 1 month’s access for just £1 and get:

Your subscription package includes:
  • Full access to and the Nursing Standard app
  • The monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal
Already subscribed? Log in

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now