7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (2023)

Have you ever wondered whatvintage medical equipment nurses used in the past?

The world of medicine is rapidly as science and technology continues to accelerate forward. A standard medical equipment nurses use for patient care can quickly become obsolete with new research and technological advancements in the healthcare field.

As we practice the nursing profession in these modern times, have you ever wondered how early medical equipment looked like?

Take a look at the following old medical equipment nurses used back in the 1900s.

1. Kolff-Brigham Artificial Kidney

7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (2)

Willem Kolff was a physician practicing in Groningen, The Netherlands during World War I. In 1943, he made an artificial kidney machine out of wood, scraps of metal and sausage casing. It looked like a rotating drum lined with sausage casings. He used it in treating renal failure patients but he only achieved success withhis 16th patient.

His first successful artificial kidney machine patient was a 67 year old woman with acute renal failure due to septicemia. After 11 hours of therapy with his artificial kidney machine, the woman recovered.

(Video) NU107 Unit 7 1704

In 1950, Kolff and his family moved to the United States. He became a notable physician in the field of biomedical engineering. His artificial kidney machine was adapted in Boston which resulted in theKolff-Brigham Artificial Kidney Machine.

The Kolff-Brigham Artificial Kidney Machine was widely used in the 1950s especially during the Korean War. Nurses during that time assisted doctors in operating the machine as it was quite big and complex to use.

Also Read:65 Photos of Vintage Nurses—Nurses Through the Centuries

2. Glass Syringe

7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (3)

Since the Roman times in the 1st century AD, syringes have been used for medical treatment as described in the world-renowned De Medicina book. But, it was only in 1946 when glass syringes were mass-produced for medical use.

The Chance Brothers, a company specializing in glassworks, first produced an all-glass syringe with separate interchangeable barrel and plunger. This design allowed for large batches of syringe sterilization without the need to match components.

Glass syringes and their corresponding metal needles are quite heavy to use. Nurses using these syringes in hospitals often get frightening looks from their patients as they give their medicines. Since glass syringes are reusable, repeated sterilization makes them dull and rusty over time.

In 1951, Australian inventor Charles Rothauser developed the first plastic disposable hypodermic syringe. It was mass-produced and replaced glass syringes slowly through the years.

3. Iron Lung

7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (4)

The external negative pressure ventilator, or simply known as iron lung, is one of the most popular vintage medical equipment around due to its enormous size and widespread usage in the 1950s.

The external negative pressure ventilator has been the subject of scientific studies since the 1600s. However, it was only in 1928 when a prototype was invented and commercially used worldwide. Philip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw, Jr, both professors at Harvard School of Public Health, invented the first iron lung. It is also referred as “Drinker Respirator”.

The first iron lung was bulky and heavy. It was powered by electric motors with air pumps similar tovacuum cleaners. The air pumps worked in changing pressure inside the airtight metal box which made breathing instantaneous to patients who have lost respiration control. Through the years since 1930s, different variations have been made to the iron lung to make it lighter and less bulky.

The iron lung was initially developed to aid in the treatment of patients suffering from coal gas poisoning. But the device was widely used around the world for the treatment of respiratory failure among polio patients when polio outbreaks affected different countries simultaneously.

During the height of the polio outbreak, hospitals were swarmed with iron lung machines. Since patients inside the iron lung have limited mobility, nurses assisted them with their daily healthcare needs.

The development of positive pressure ventilation through intubation and tracheostomy made the iron lung obsolete in 1980s. Using positive pressure ventilation became more preferable as nurses and other healthcare workers hadmore mobility in assessing patients than in body-encased iron lung patients.

Also Read:15 Old Nursing Skills We Don’t Use Anymore

4. Syrette

7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (5)

A syrettewas widely used during the World War II era. It resembled a superglue tube but functions as a portable syringe. It had a closed flexible tube and the other end had a hollow needle. It usually contained single-dose medicines that could be quickly administered during emergency situations.

During World War II, syrettes became popular for quick morphine shots. Nurses in the field carried morphine syrettes to be given to injured soldiers. To give a dose, a nurse only hadto break the seal and remove the wire loop pin. As the syrette’s needle is injected through subcutaneous route, the nurse wouldflatten out the tube to give a full dose.

Aside from morphine, syrettes were also used for atropine and omnopon doses. Usage of syrettes became less popular when disposable plastic syringes were developed.

5. Mercury Sphygmomanometer

7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (6)

Throughout the 18th century, physicians continued to look for ways on how they could accurately measure their patient’s blood pressure. Use of mercury in a glass tube was a trend during that time but it produced inaccurate results.

In 1881, Dr. Samuel Siegfried Karl Ritter von Basch invented the first sphygmomanometer. It was made from a calibrated glass tube filled with mercury. In 1896, Dr. Scipioni Riva-Rocci devised an inflatable cuff connected to the sphygmomanometer for easier blood pressure reading. Dr. Harvey Cushing adapted Dr. Riva-Rocci’s design and developed a mercury sphygmomanometer complete with cuff. It became popular in the US and nurses were taught how to use it for vital signs monitoring.

In 1916, W.A. Baum commercially produced sphygmomanometers for clinic and hospital use. Their model was named Baumanometer and they continuously changed sphygmomanometer models throughout the years.

6. Jet Injector

7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (7)

A jet injector is a needleless injecting device that used pressurized air to to penetrate the epidermis with a specified dosage of medicine or vaccine. The device was developed in the 1960s for mass immunization of smallpox vaccine.

The concept for the jet injector was hatchedduring the 1900s when frequent engine workshop accidents involved accidental jet injections from fuel injectors. In 1960s, Aaron Ismach invented and patented a medical grade jet injector for mass vaccination. The US government awarded him for his effort and used his invention for mass vaccinations of tne smallpox vaccine in Asia and Africa.

The US Department of Defense continued using jet injectors until 1997 when they announced discontinued usage of the device due to growing concerns of cross infection. Since the vaccine or medicine was delivered using pressurized air into the epidermis, skin integrity was compromised. Cross-contamination between applications was highly likely and there had been documented cases of Hepatitis B transmission through jet injectors.

7. Mercury Thermometer

7 Vintage Medical Equipment Nurses Used in the Past - NurseBuff (8)

Before the invention of mercury thermometer, water and alcohol were used in the first prototypes of the thermometer. In 1714, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit first created a mercury thermometer. Fahrenheit was a physicist, engineer, and a professional glass blower. His mercury thermometer was made from glass calibrated with his own temperature scale. Later on, his temperature scale was adapted worldwide and named after him.

During the 19th century, mercury thermometers were big, measuring at least a foot long. It needed at least twenty minutes to accurately measure a person’s body temperature. In 1867, Sir Thomas Clifford Allbutt devised a smaller mercury thermometer measuring six inches long. It only needed five minutes to accurately measure a person’s body temperature.

In 1990s, production of mercury thermometers was discontinued. It was no longer recommended for medical use as it was too dangerous to handle. The vigorous swinging needed to reset the mercury level inside the thermometer could lead toaccidental breakage resulting inpoisonous mercury exposure.

It’s amazing to see that these vintage medical equipment were routinely used by nurses in the early times. Who knows, the medical equipment we use nowadays may soon become obsolete and vintage in the eyes of future nurses someday.


What equipment does a nurse use? ›

Basic Nurse Tools and Equipment

To accomplish this, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and a variety of thermometers (ranging from rectal thermometers to digital versions that are inserted in the ear) are part of an RN's medical equipment list.

What is the most used medical equipment in hospitals? ›

The Most Used Medical Equipment in Hospitals
  • Ultrasound scanners.
  • Scalpels.
  • Patient monitors.
  • Defibrillators.
  • Surgical tables.
  • Wheelchairs and hospital beds.
4 May 2020

What is a pita patient? ›

"PITA" isn't referring to the bread.

Liz, a nurse with two years of experience, told Business Insider that among nurses, a PITA is a patient or family member who is a pain in the a--. "It's a code nurses use to warn their fellow nurses about an uncooperative patient or relative," according to Nurse Buff.

What is pita diagnosis? ›

Definition: PITA literally stands for “Pain In The Ass”. It's a code nurses use to warn their fellow nurses about an uncooperative patient or relative. Example: The patient is very sweet but his wife is a PITA.

What equipment is used in a hospital? ›

Treatment equipment like infusion pumps, medical lasers etc. Life support equipment used to maintain a patient's bodily function. This includes medical ventilators, incubators, anaesthetic machines, heart-lung machines and dialysis machines. Medical monitors that allow medical staff to measure a patient's medical state.

What is hospital and nursing equipment? ›

Defibrillators, patient monitors, surgical tables, EKGs, anesthesia machines, sterilizers, lights, ultrasounds, and electrosurgical units, blanket/fluid warmers are all necessary pieces hospital equipment.

What is the most important medical equipment? ›

1. EKG/ECG machines. Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) machines record the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time and allow health care providers to monitor the overall rhythm of the heart and identify any abnormalities in an individual.

What are the main types of medical instruments? ›

The most common type of medical diagnostic equipment is a stethoscope, which is used to listen to internal body sounds. Other examples include blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, electrocardiographs (ECGs), electroencephalography (EEGs), ultrasonography (US), and X-ray machines.

What is the name of medical instruments? ›

Instruments used in general medicine
Stethoscopeto hear sounds from movements within the body like heart beats, intestinal movement, breath sounds, etc.
Suction deviceto suck up blood or secretions
Thermometerto record body temperature
Tongue depressorfor use in oral examination
35 more rows

What do nurses call a Purewick? ›

Purewick sticker / Cooter Canoe Tour Guide / Nursing Humor / Gift / Nursing student / Funny sticker / Magnet This funny and slightly irreverent sticker pretty much sums up the fabulous Purewick - which we all know we call it the infamous Cooter Canoe!

What does MX mean in nursing? ›

Mx. Medication. NAD. No abnormality detected / No acute distress.

What does it mean when a nurse says you're tacky? ›

Tachy: Pronounced “tacky,” this term is slang for “tachycardia,” which means a patient has an increased heart rate.

What is a vata person? ›

Those with the vata dosha are usually described as slim, energetic, and creative. They're known for thinking outside the box but can become easily distracted. What's more, their mood is highly dependent on the weather, people around them, and foods they eat ( 4 , 5 ).

What is a vata dosha? ›

What is Vata Dosha? Vata dosha is the Ayurvedic mind-body element associated with air and space. It's light, cool, and dry in nature, and it governs all movement and processes in your mind and body—including processes like blood flow, elimination, breathing, and the movement of thoughts in your mind.

What are the new slang words for 2022? ›

21 Slang Words That Should Still Be Cool To Use In 2022
  • On Fleek.
  • Buggin'
  • Trippin'
  • Illin'
  • Word.
  • Poppin'
  • Bomb.
  • Flava.
28 Mar 2022

What is an example of medical equipment? ›

First aid equipment includes thermometers (including oral, rectal, in-ear, and forehead), bandages, ace bandages, heating pads, and snakebite kits. Other types of medical devices commonly used in the home are assistive technologies and durable medical equipment.

How many types of medical equipment are there? ›

Today, there are an estimated 2 million different kinds of medical devices on the world market, categorized into more than 7000 generic devices groups.

What are the tools equipment? ›

Tools and Equipment means all hand tools, implements, camp equipment, drawing office and survey instruments, medical and surgical instruments and all articles of similar nature, whether or not they are of an expendable nature, which are not normally issued to officers personally for use in carrying out their official ...

What does a nurse need for work? ›

7 Essential Items Every Successful Nurse Needs
  • Click pens. Ask just about any nurse which pen is the best on the job and they're likely to say, “click pens!” Why? ...
  • Pen light. A nursing must-have! ...
  • Nursing scissors. ...
  • Good scrubs. ...
  • The right shoes. ...
  • Stethoscope. ...
  • Drug guide and nursing diagnosis app.

What equipment does an LPN use? ›

Scissors and Medical Tape

Scissors and medical tapes are other important tools that an LPN must always carry with him/her. For every wound care and injury, keeping scissors and tapes handy, can prove to be of great help. LPNs should always keep these ready as they can be needed at any time.

What kind of technology is needed or used for nursing? ›

Tech for Setting Up Patients

It typically includes creating a patient profile and setting up payment and health insurance information. Registered nurses need a basic understanding of how to use computers, including word processing software, email and online communications tools, such as virtual meeting programs.

What do I need for my first day as a nurse? ›

  1. Wear Your Uniform and a Watch. It all begins with your uniform. ...
  2. Bring Four Pens. ...
  3. Bring a Stethoscope Holster. ...
  4. Pack Your Lunch. ...
  5. Your Shift Starts 15-Minutes Earlier Than Anyone Else. ...
  6. Remember ALL of Your Patients, and Be Patient. ...
  7. Keep a Paper “Brain.” ...
  8. Interact With Your Peers.
10 Nov 2016

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carmelo Roob

Last Updated: 02/18/2023

Views: 5315

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carmelo Roob

Birthday: 1995-01-09

Address: Apt. 915 481 Sipes Cliff, New Gonzalobury, CO 80176

Phone: +6773780339780

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Gaming, Jogging, Rugby, Video gaming, Handball, Ice skating, Web surfing

Introduction: My name is Carmelo Roob, I am a modern, handsome, delightful, comfortable, attractive, vast, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.