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How do I deal with a needle phobe?

Trypanophobia is the irrational fear of injections. It seems like everyone suffers from this fear just a little. As a nurse, you probably stick your fair share of needles into people. It’s a bit ironic that many people fear the medicine more than the disease. The key is to find out exactly what the needle-phobe is afraid of.

Half of the people who are afraid of needles are, for the most part, only afraid of the sight of needles. Try hiding the needle, ask the patient to look away or suggest they close their eyes. Oftentimes the patients are just apprehensive about the thought of the needle more than the pain that will follow. The worse part for most patients is the anticipation.

One tenth of needle-phobes are only afraid of the pain. By applying a topical anesthetic, you can administer an injection without much problem. Be sure to explain that to the patient because knowledge helps to ease the fear of the unknown.
Twenty percent of the trypanophobes are afraid of being controlled or restrained. They may become aggressive or combative when you attempt to administer an injection. You might have to earn the trust of these people in order to inject them. Explain what the medicine does. How it works. Why you are injecting it into them. Ask them if they would like to help you administer the injection. Give them some degree of control. This may ease their apprehensions.
About a third of needle-phobes are afraid of needles due to a past trauma. This might be the most difficult case. A doctor or a psychiatrist may have to be employed, depending on how dire the injection is. Anti-anxiety medicine may need to be given to patients before a shot can be administered.
Those patients that are extremely apprehensive prior to the needle stick sometimes do best when the injection is given quickly, allowing them little time to develop anxiety.

Never stick a patient without their consent or knowledge, but you should hastily proceed once you enter the room so as to not draw out the stress.

Finally, organize all of your supplies outside the room and not in front of the patient, as the sight of you opening the needle in front of them and drawing up the medication can cause more anxiety.

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3 Responses to How do I deal with a needle phobe?

  1. I just witnessed this with my own 9 year old daughter. Doctor said she needed a vaccine and left the room. Between then and the time the nurse returned with the needle, she started to cry and became upset. After the injection, she said “Well, that wasn’t so bad, it was waiting for it that was terrible.”

  2. Anonymous

    I think you are right the sight of the needle is what actually makes it scary. But with a good nurse administering it there’s nothing to be scared at all.

  3. Anonymous

    thats good advice. i hate needles.

    What makes it worse for me is seeing it being prepared, so doing it outside is a thumbs up for me!