By Ryan MacArthur |

IV therapy as we know it is barely a century old, but did you know that the practice of injecting fluids into a vein has been around since the 1600s?

However, due to the lack of modern science and knowledge of the human body, early attempts to deliver IV fluids and drugs were mostly unsuccessful.

The devastating effects of both world wars led to a shift in how healthcare professionals used IV therapy to treat patients and save lives. Despite how long in IV therapy history the basics have been in practice, the most significant developments in IV treatment equipment, drugs and implementations have just taken place within the last 25 years.

At the Start of IV Therapy History: 17th Century

First Blood TransfusionThe first recorded attempt at a blood transfusion using basic IV treatment took place in the 1660’s. The experiment, which included two unfortunate dogs, was unsuccessful.

Later, Sir Christopher Wren created the first successful IV infusion device from a pig’s bladder and a quill. Though he was able to infuse medication into a dog, blood transfusions were prohibited by the English Parliament and the Vatican shortly after.

Nonetheless, Wren’s innovation in early IV technology paved the way for future developments.

19th Century

In the 1830s, Dr. Thomas Latta discovered that injecting certain fluids into the bloodstream could help battle cholera. Using a syringe and silver tube, he successfully revived 8 of the 25 patients he treated.

WWII to Present

While nurses almost always administer IVs today, only doctors were permitted to place IVs until 1940. Delegating the task to trained nurses allowed for faster treatment and played a crucial factor in ensuring the health and survival of countless soldiers during WWII.

In 1945, the plastic catheter became commonplace due to the frequency of IV failure, specifically infiltrations. By the 1960’s, the sight of IV treatment devices became routine in most American hospitals.

IV therapy is now one of the most widely used treatments in modern medicine. Healthcare providers are able to effectively treat patients based on the milestones discovered by innovators like Sir Wren, Dr. O’Shaughnessy, and Dr. Latta.

After 400 years of research, the development of IVs has come a long way. Companies and researchers continue to build upon that research to improve the effectiveness and safety of IVs today.

Your Recommended Reads:

References –

The Method Observed in Transfusing the Blood out of One Animal into Another –

The History of Intravenous Therapy

The Origins of Intravenous Fluids


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