Capsule

Fulton, penicillin and chance

On May 27 of this year, in a nursing home in Connecticut’s Northwest Corner, Anne Sheafe Miller died at the age of 90. She owed the last 57 years of her life to a coincidence that placed her, in 1942, in a hospital room down the hall from John F. Fulton, M.D.Medicine had failed Miller. During four weeks of treatment her temperature soared above 106 degrees, and no medications, not even sulfa drugs, had broken the fever. She was dying of streptococcal septicemia, a common infection resulting from miscarriage.Her physician, John Bumstead, M.D., also was treating Fulton, who occupied a bed in a nearby room, for an infection. What followed would make medical history and usher in the modern use of...

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