Dr. Fennigkoh has been inducted into the Clinical Engineering Hall of Fame in recognition of his pioneering work in developing a medical device inventory inclusion algorithm that significantly reduced the maintenance and regulatory burden for many of the nation’s hospitals. He is also being recognized for his application of human factors principles in device incident investigations and the reduction of medical error.
Dr. Fennigkoh earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. After leading the clinical engineering departments at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center - Milwaukee, WI, he became Professor, Biomedical Engineering at MSOE. He has received numerous awards from prestigious organizations, including AAMI Clinical Engineering Achievement Award in 1994, ACCE Patient Safety Advocacy Award in 2006, and inducted fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2009.
Below are some excerpts from the supporting material provided for his nomination.
“Dr. Fennigkoh is best known among clinical engineering (CE) professionals as the “father” of the “risk-based criteria” for equipment inclusion into maintenance management inventory… adopted by The Joint Commission (TJC)… until 2013 when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandated all devices be included in the inventory… The tremendous contribution of his model to CE by itself would have justified Dr. Fennigkoh’s induction into the CE Hall of Fame. However, he did not rest on his laurels. He continued to contribute to the advancement of the CE profession after accepting an academic appointment in 1998 after 2 decades of leadership in CE departments. Besides the typical academic pursuits of teaching and research, he used his extensive experience to investigate patient incidents involving medical devices and other technologies… The experience acquired in these cases allowed him to publish articles and deliver presentations to help CE professionals learn how to reduce risks associated with medical devices, thereby benefiting an uncountable number of patients and caregivers… In addition to incident investigations, Dr. Fennigkoh also became very involved with human-factors engineering (HFE). He delivered lectures and published articles pointing out that the root cause of many alleged “user errors” (later termed “use errors”) were actually poor HFE. His efforts in promoting HFE have made his contribution to patient safety even more significant and wide-reaching.”
“I am familiar with Dr. Fennigkoh’s achievements through my work with hospital-based Clinical Engineers. Dr. Fennigkoh’s work (published with Brigid Smith) enabled Clinical Engineers to use an objective method to determine which medical devices benefit from inclusion into their maintenance program. This innovation became a national standard and freed up Clinical Engineering staff from activities that would not improve patient safety, thus enabling them to spend more time on activities that do. Through his work, he influenced CE professionals worldwide (I know through my international experience, that many CE professional look at literature and practices from the USA as a reference for their work in their countries). It is important to note that his methods have not only reached individual CE professionals, but also regulatory authorities such as The Joint Commission (who accepted his risk scoring as a basis for including equipment in the medical equipment inventory through 2013).”
“I first got to “know” Dr. Fennigkoh through his risk-based criteria for PM. It changed the way we did business in the Biomed department. As the saying goes: “it was a game changer”. No longer was our department doing senseless work that added no value to health care. Now we could perform work that makes sense and adds value. Since that article, I have learned how impactful he has been to our field in many other areas. We hire many Clinical Engineers from the Milwaukee area so I got to hear first-hand the passion and knowledge Dr. Fennigkoh passes on through his classes. He has also contributed to improvements and considerations in Human Factor Engineering (HFE). This became an important concept in the VA at our National Center for Patient Safety.”
“Dr. Fennigkoh is one of the most intelligent and creative engineers I have known. But it is his natural inclination to teaching that I want to highlight here. He moved from engineering practice to the academic world, choosing the Milwaukee School of Engineering for its emphasis on teaching over research. Throughout his career, he has made the effort to share whatever he learned by writing, lecturing, mentoring and taking time to talk with students and engineers at any stage of their careers.”
“The advancement of clinical engineering and its endeavors to improve patient safety and efficiency in equipment selection and management has always required recognition by accrediting agencies, hospital administrators, risk managers and governmental bodies. The work by Dr. Fennigkoh over many years has not only fostered such recognition and improvements but has demonstrative and tangible positive results…. His early work in the clinical setting at the front lines of clinical engineering department management set the stage for many of his health technology management contributions over the ensuing decades. Dr. Fennigkoh’s many professional society affiliations and board memberships have contributed significantly to the advancement and recognition of clinical engineering and related initiatives in the certification of clinical engineering professional…. Specifically, Dr. Fennigkoh’s work on health technology management initiatives at The Joint Commission and AAMI have helped clinical engineers and BMETs understand and navigate their way through a myriad of environment of care standards and health technology management issues.”
“Dr. Fennigkoh is an icon in our industry. For over 40 years, he has been a leading industry thinker in clinical engineering practices, education and forensic engineering… Dr. Fennigkoh has demonstrated an earnest commitment to our profession and to quality healthcare. Because of the effort he consistently puts into his activities and his obvious commitment, he is one of those professionals who has come to be greatly valued by his HTM colleagues and the healthcare professionals he has interfaced with.”
Dr. Fennigkoh reviewing the functions and safety issues associated with a cardiac defibrillator.