From Iron Lungs to Intensive Care

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In between life and death there is a place called intensive care.

Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fellows Kevin Fong and Richard Barnett are joined by a panel of intensive care specialists including Nicholas HirschFiona KellySimon Cohen and Professor Bobby Farsides to explore the origins of intensive care medicine, what the speciality has become today and where the future will lead it. 

The intensive care unit is one of medicine’s true extremes. Here doctors and nurses work round the clock, artificially replacing the function of patient's organs, trying to rebalance their physiology in the face of critical illness.  

It is a speciality that has changed the face of modern medicine but one that presents some of the most difficult ethical challenges faced by doctors today. Intensive care beds are a scarce resource, knowing who, how and when to treat is part of the speciality's art and the aspect that gives clinicians greatest pause for thought.

For these intensivists – the doctors specialising in intensive care medicine – there is the perpetual challenge of knowing just how far to go and when enough is enough.

Watch Part Two here.

This event forms part of a series on the history of modern medicine, curated by Kevin Fong and Richard Barnett.


Being Human, Technology


Dr Richard Barnett, Dr Kevin Fong
London, UK
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The Royal Institution

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