Dr. Malcolm Ridgway has been inducted into the Clinical Engineering Hall of fame in recognition for excellence in innovation, for influencing the direction that clinical engineering has taken over the decades, and for his impact on CE professionals, clinical users, regulatory authorities, patients and society in general with his fight for rational, evidence-based maintenance.
- Born in 1936 in the West Riding of Yorkshire in the north of England
- 1959: B.Sc in Physical Sciences (Physics and Geology), University of Edinburgh, Scotland
- 1962: Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
- 1959 – 1966: Biomedical Engineer, Department of Surgery, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
- 1966 – 1967: Project Engineer, Bendix Aerospace Systems, Ann Arbor, MI
- 1967 – 1972: Director, Biomedical Instrumentation Programs, TRW Systems, Redondo Beach, CA
- 1972 – 1974: Asst. Director, Biomedical Engineering Institute, University of Southern California
- 1974 – 1985: Director, Biomedical Engineering Shared Service, Hospital Council of So. California
- 1985 – 2011: Senior Vice President, Technology Management and CCTO, COHR MasterPlan
- 2011 - 2013: Chief Clinical Engineer, Aramark Healthcare, Clinical Technology Systems
- 2013: Retired
Below are some excerpts from the supporting material provided for his nomination.
Malcolm Ridgway is widely acknowledged to be one of the pioneers of applying engineering and managerial skills to supporting and advancing patient care through technology. Although he spent almost six years in the aerospace industry working on both the manned and the unmanned space programs, he has devoted most of his more than five decades of professional life to clinical engineering (CE).
Along with Dr. Joel Nobel and a few others, Dr. Ridgway started one of the first CE shared service programs in the US, dedicated to providing medical equipment maintenance and maintenance management services to hospitals. At that time, in the early 1970s, CE was just emerging at a few of the major academic hospitals, and most community hospitals had to rely on the equipment manufacturers for service. Unlike other shared services that remained as not‐for-profit organizations or were subsequently dismantled, the Hospital Council of Southern California's shared service under Dr. Ridgway's leadership grew from a $2 million/year not-for‐profit organization into an $80 million/year for‐profit nationwide enterprise (COHR Inc.), substantially expanding the role of independent service organizations (ISOs) in CE.
During his 37 years at COHR dba MasterPlan, Dr. Ridgway had several leading roles and was widely recognized as the company's visionary in terms of maintenance strategy, service quality, and regulatory compliance. After MasterPlan was acquired and merged with Aramark in March 2011, he continued to serve as the merged company's Chief Clinical Engineer for two more years.
During his total career of more than 50 years, Dr. Ridgway participated in numerous activities in professional organizations aimed at advancing the CE profession, enhancing patient safety, the quality of patient care, and making the most efficient use of limited resources. These activities included: (1) Being a founding member of the Board of Examiners for Clinical Engineering Certification, when it started in 1975, (2) being a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Health Devices journal starting in 1977, (3) serving on many industry‐wide advisory groups, including several technical committees of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), (4) being a founding member of the Executive Board of the Healthcare Section of the NFPA when it started in 1978, (5) being a founding member of The Joint Commission's Committee on Healthcare Safety when it started in 1980, (6) being a columnist and consulting editor for the Healthcare Technology Management journal from 1995 to 1998, and (7) being a member of the board of the Service Industry Association from 1998 to 2008.
Most significant to many has been his tireless challenge of the blind acceptance of manufacturers' recommendations and statutory mandates for so-called "preventive" maintenance that has proven to be largely ineffective in reducing medical equipment failures and improving patient safety to any significant degree. Together with a few colleagues, he pioneered a new way of classifying equipment failures that allows a much better understanding of the underlying causes of failures. These studies allow CE professionals to develop and justify sound, evidence-based maintenance strategies instead of simply relying on the manufacturers' largely theoretical recommendations.
Dr. Ridgway has received numerous awards from a number of prestigious organizations, including: ASHE (in 1985 and 1989), the Institute for the Advancement of Engineering (in 1990), AAMI (in 2001), ACCE (in 2003, 2007, and 2011), and he was made a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2012. In addition, he has received 3 best paper awards from AAMI's BI&T magazine.
As for his personal qualities, one of his colleagues commented that after knowing him for more than two decades the quality that has impressed him the most is his magnanimous nature. He seems simply incapable to holding a grudge against anyone who might have wronged him in some way, or of saying anything bad about anyone. Such nobility of character is very rare nowadays. Another said that he was not only professionally astute; he was personally friendly and often quite humorous.
It wasn't easy being the lone biomedical engineer in the University's Department of Surgery in 1960. Here is Dr. Ridgway trying to impress some of the professor's visitors from overseas by demonstrating how the "radio pill" he had developed was being used to study gastrointestinal motility.