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Apparatus for continuous infusion of penicillin, London, England, 1945-1955

Penicillin has been used as a treatment since 1941. It was, however, broken down in the stomach so it had to be injected into the body. Penicillin was given at a patient at a constant rate via a needle inserted into a muscle – a technique called infusion. An electric motor provides the power. Dr C E Last invented this machine in 1945 while working at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children in Carshalton, Surrey, England. He claimed that his invention was practically pain free. He also considered it a time-saver for nursing staff as constant adjustments were unnecessary.

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    Glossary: penicillin

    The first antibiotic drug to treat infections which is made from the mould penicillium. Its discovery is attributed to Alexander Fleming in 1928.

    Glossary: penicillin machine

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    Glossary: infusion

    The introduction of a fluid other than blood into a vein.