Alexander Wood

Alexander Wood (1817 – 1884)

Alexander Wood (1817 – 1884) was a Scottish physician.

Credited with being the inventor of the first hypodermic needle (1844), taking the ‘sting of the bee‘ as his mode

The subcutaneous introduction of fluids, for the relief of neuralgia, was first practised in this country by me, in the Meath Hospital, in the month of May, 1844.

Rynd, 1861

‘At first this new hypodermic method was employed exclusively for the administration of morphia and preparations of opium, but it is important to note that, from the outset, Dr Wood pointed to a far wider application.

Rev Thomas Brown

Legend has it that Wood’s wife, Rebecca Massey, was the first known intravenous morphine addict and died of an overdose delivered by her husband’s invention. Richard Davenport-Hines disagrees ‘It is a myth: she outlived him, and survived until 1896‘ and the communal burial plot in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh would seem to agree.


  • 1817 – Born 10th December in Fife, Scotland
  • 1839 – Gained his MD from the University of Edinburgh
  • 1858 – President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • 1884 – Died 26th February

Medical Eponyms

  • Hypodermic needle

Major Publications


eponymictionary CTA


the person behind the name

Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM with a passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and informatics. Asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | vocortex |

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