Dave Harrington, ‘Larger Than Life’ Clinical Engineer, Dies at 77

Posted October 1, 2018

Dave Harrington

Dave Harrington, a longtime clinical engineer who was beloved by the healthcare technology community, died last week after a long illness. He was 77. Harrington, who lived in Medway, MA, was known by his friends and colleagues as a dedicated educator, prolific writer, and volunteer who had a true love and commitment to the field and helping others.

“Dave was the epitome of a dedicated clinical engineer. I, my colleagues, and our industry are the greater for his many contributions and we will long feel the hole left by the absence of this industry icon,” said Steve Grimes, managing partner and principal consultant for Strategic Healthcare Technology Associates, LLC.

Harrington was more than a clinical engineer—he was a character, a man described by many as larger than life—and he dedicated his career to education and charitable work. Harrington taught biomedical engineering at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston, MA, for decades and was the author of long-running columns with the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) and 24x7, where he was a member of the magazine’s editorial board.

“My memory of Dave will always be of a wry, corn-cob pipe-smoking critic who remained committed to our industry and doing what he saw as the right thing,” said Grimes, who is a member of the BI&T Editorial Board. “He had little patience for those who weren’t focused on quality and safety.”

Harrington was also highly regarded for his volunteering, both at his local biomedical society, the New England Society of Clinical Engineering—where he served even when he was ill—and through his international humanitarian work, including with Mother Teresa. AAMI and ACCE recognized Harrington’s humanitarian contributions with a Robert L. Morris Humanitarian Award in 2005.

"I always admired Dave’s energy and dedication to the profession. Even after he retired from work, he would continue to write columns for 24x7 and the ACCE Newsletter, always providing good advice to the younger professionals," said Binseng Wang, director of quality and regulatory affairs at WRP32 Management, Inc. and Greenwood Marketing LLC. "I particularly liked his nice smile and sense of humor when we met in person and discussed challenges to the profession. I will miss him tremendously."

Jim Piepenbrink, deputy director of the AAMI Foundation, remembered Harrington as an active member of the HTM community—and a fellow hockey player—who raised the stature of the field, and was always willing to help, even as his health declined.

“Dave was larger than life with his energy, passion for teaching, and deep interest in medical technology and patient safety,” said Piepenbrink, who knew Harrington for more than four decades, dating back to his role as director of medical engineering at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA. “One of the greatest things about Dave was his sharp wit and equally sharp mind, and I had the pleasure to sit with him and talk about the industry, hockey, and life.”