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Wrongly administered flu shot?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Ok... So this afternoon DD had her 1 year well baby appointment. I've been trying to research each of the vaccines to know which she should get/not get right now. I decided we would wait to get any of the vaccines today because I had more reading to do. However, DD got the flu last year and it ended up not being bad but it was a traumatic experience, so the Dr. suggested we give her the flu shot. DH and I were unsure but reluctantly agreed.

I normally nurse DD while she receives the shot. It always irritates the nurse but it works out great. DD doesn't fight or cry at all. She just glares and keeps nursing. So the nurse took a bit of blood for the iron test and DD didn't make a sound. In fact, she seemed to barely notice. Then, the nurse grabbed the flu needle. I usually look at DD when she gets poked to distract her but this time I watched the needle. The woman stuck it SO deep into DD's thigh. My jaw literally dropped and I was speechless. She put it so deep that the 2.5-3 inch needle was gone. Her leg skin hit the plastic casing on the shot (I don't know what it's called). DD started howling immediately--before the shot was even administered. She was in real pain. My mind was racing and I couldn't find the words to ask why the hell she had put that stupid needle so deep in my baby's leg?? It was miserable. When the stupid nurse took the needle out, DD's leg bled a lot. Like pouring down her leg. That's also never happened.

It's worth noting that I have a slender baby. She's 99th% for height and 55th% for weight, so her thighs are certainly not large or chubby. I seriously worry that the stupid nurse hit my baby's bone with the needle and that's why it was immediately excruciating.

Also, for the record, I've been nursing DD during shots since 4 months and she's never cried since then, until now. So I'm positive that she was not overreacting and did feel significant pain.

I guess I'm just wondering if this has happened to anyone before. Am I right to feel horrified at how deep she placed the needle?? Should I file a complaint? I can't imagine how many other children are being needlessly injured by this woman. I also just feel like total crap about letting them hurt her. I'm trying so hard to protect her and make the best choices I can, and it seems like I'm failing miserably.

I had already decided that this practice is not a good fit for our family and was going to seek a more open-minded, patient-focused doctor. This just seals the deal. I won't be taking my child back to that office.

Thanks for reading this.
post #2 of 7

I am so sorry that hapenned.


I am not sure how deep the needle is supposed to go in, but I would research it if I were you.


I would make a complaint.  I doubt they will take it seriously (after all - it could easily turn into a her word against yours kind of thing).  That being said, if the nurse or gets has multiple complaints against her, it will add to the file.  

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your response. I did some additional research and found that a 5/8 inch needle would have been adequate to reach the muscle tissue, especially in a slender leg. The woman used at least a 2-inch needle. Here's a quote from a CDC pediatric vaccination guide (if anyone's interested):

"Needle Length - The needle should be long enough to reach the muscle mass and prevent vaccine from seeping into subcutaneous tissue, but not so long as to involve underlying nerves, blood vessels, or bone. The vaccinator should be familiar with the anatomy of the area into which the vaccine will be injected."

So, obviously the shot was placed too deep. I'll definitely be making a complaint and including copies of the information I found.

Also, DH corrected me that the woman was not a full-fledged nurse. Just an assistant person. So maybe a complaint will carry more weight. I also realized later that no one took DD's temp before giving the vaccine... I just didn't notice that they forgot until later.

Thank you for your encouragement, kathymuggle!
post #4 of 7

I give needles for a living. So to reassure you, the needle is supposed to go up to the plastic part. You are supposed to put the whole needle in as you want it well into the muscle I have never seen anything other than a 1 inch needle used in a baby's leg. That is pretty standard, and I have worked in 3 different regions, always a one inch needle for baby's leg for vaccines. Needles can look longer than you think, I have had people ask me how long the needle is, as it looks long, even if it is only an inch. I guess you could call and find out what size of needle was used. If it was too long, I don't know the particulars for the US system, but I would guess that if you have a person giving needles who is not a registered RN or LPN, or someone who belongs to a nursing association, you might not have anyone to report it to. If you have a grievance against a licenced professional you report to that professional body, but if they are not licenced to begin with? I don't know how that would work. I would be pretty suspect of any doctors office getting people who are untrained administer anything to me! I would first get to the bottom that issue, who gave it and what are their qualifications.

post #5 of 7

Just wanted to add that a 1 inch needle is perfectly acceptable in a 12 month old's leg, even if slender. In my experience you do not hit bone with a 1 inch needle in a 2 month old, nevermind a 12 month old, even when they are small for 2 months, you;'d have to have a really really premature and tiny 2 month old to be worried with a 1 inch needle

post #6 of 7

Also normal to not take temp before vaccination.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your input, babymommy2! To answer your questions, my husband confirmed that the needle was longer than 1 inch. He's a paramedic who gives intramuscular shots regularly and he said it looked longer than appropriate.

The woman was not an RN or an LPN. I don't know her exact title but I would assume it's similar to a CNA. Some sort of nursing assistant.

She is probably not licensed herself. Just operating under the head MD's license. At least that's how my husband works.

It's normal at our office to take the temp at every visit and especially so before a vaccination to ensure the child isn't already running a fever. I just missed it.

I think I'll start by calling and asking what needle they think they used and go from there. I agree that a 5/8-1 inch needle would do the job adequately (placing the vaccine in the actual muscle). In the future, I'll be sure to request and confirm that they are using that size.
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