The syringe driver and the subcutaneous route in palliative care: the inventor, the history and the implications

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005 Jan;29(1):32-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2004.08.006.


Since the early 1980s, the syringe driver has become a commonly used technology in British palliative care, used to administer continuous subcutaneous infusions (CSCI) for symptom management. Although the device itself has not been adopted universally, it has stimulated interest in the use of CSCI in palliative care and played a significant role in the modern history of this approach. This historical case study of the syringe driver examines the life and work of its inventor, explores its development for use in childhood thalassemia, and analyzes the circumstances surrounding its adoption in palliative care. We conclude by considering the reasons for the continued popularity of the syringe driver, despite problems in its use, and reflect on the lessons which can be learned about the use of CSCI in palliative care internationally.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics / history*
  • England
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous / history*
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / history*
  • Palliative Care / history*
  • Syringes / history*


  • Analgesics

Personal name as subject

  • Basil Martin Wright