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James Francis Pantridge: The Father of Emergency Medicine

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | October 22, 2012
From the October 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


In a 1966 Lancet article, Pantridge and Geddes reported a cardiac arrest survival rate of only 31 percent at the Royal Victoria Hospital if the event occurred in a general medical ward or casualty department, compared with 62 percent in an intensive care area. But after 15 months utilizing their new invention, a later Lancet article the doctors published revealed they had recorded 10 successful resuscitations and a 50 percent long-term survival rate, revolutionizing emergency medicine. In fact, upon seeing the article, journalists at Time Magazine suggested installing a defibrillator in the White House.

Further to making the defibrillator portable, Pantridge developed the automated external defibrillator, a fail-safe mechanism that determines whether a shock is necessary. This enabled his device to be used safely by members of the public – professionals and amateurs alike.

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Throughout his life, Pantridge received various awards, including Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1957, and Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1978. He also inspired the creation of the Pantridge Trust, a charity raising funds and sponsoring activities in the fight against cardiovascular disease. The City of Lisburn, Northern Ireland commissioned a statue crafted in his honor, which sits outside the Lisburn City Council Offices.

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