Tag Archives: history of medicine

GIVE ME MY BANANA BAG!

bananabag (Small)For some reason I was just thinking back to the wards at Hopkins and the yellow bags of IV fluids that we would hang for the patients who abused alcohol.  The IV’s we’d give them were called OSLER BAGS…named after the famous first chief of medicine at Johns Hopkins, Sir William Osler, and the namesake for the public wards at Hopkins.  The Osler bag, called by some the ‘banana bag’….was filled with the Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and that gave it the yellow tinge.

Thiamine is an essential B-vitamin, one of 8 B Vitamins used by our body to help in metabolic activity, specifically in the production of neurotransmitters.  Derived from plant and bacterial sources in our diet, we cannot produce Thiamine, so we must get it from food sources; without it, illness can develop.

Due to the limited diet of alcoholics on the wards, limited often to alcohol only, thiamine deficiency could lead to confusion and a specific type of memory loss resulting in confabulation, the fabrication of imaginary experiences to substitute for actual memories.  This mental derangement is termed Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, and is the primary reason for the Osler bag’s invention.

So, if you see someone with a banana bag when wandering the hospital, you’ll now know….’what’s up’ with the yellow IV.

 

For more information on THIAMINE…..LOOK HERE.