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Frank Pantridge

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 31 March 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:793

Cardiologist who created pre-hospital coronary care through the invention of the portable defibrillator

Frank Pantridge invented the portable defibrillator. The first model operated from car batteries and weighed 70 kg. Descendants of that clumsy contraption—created in 1965 when Frank was a consultant physician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Belfast and produced with technician Alfred Mawhinney and senior house officer John Geddes—are now used a countless number of times daily throughout the world saving an incalculable number of lives annually. Frank installed the “portable” defibrillator in an ambulance, thus creating pre-hospital coronary care.

Frank's concepts were rapidly adopted in the United States and elsewhere. An exception was the United Kingdom, although an editorial in the Lancet in 1967 stated that Pantridge and Geddes had revolutionised emergency medicine.

The portable defibrillator was a response to the epidemic proportions that coronary heart disease had reached by the 1950s. In the early 1960s hospital care units appeared in North America. Frank Pantridge doubted their value since epidemiological data had shown that the majority of coronary …

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