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HFES Bulletin

August 2012
Volume 55, Number 9

Inside HFES

In Memoriam: Ben-Tzion (Bentzi) Karsh

Bentzi Karsh

Bentzi Karsh (October 1, 1971-August 18, 2012) grew up in Mil­waukee, Wisconsin, in a family that cherished education. Bentzi and his three siblings graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madi­son, where a proud family tradition was established.

Bentzi majored and excelled in the field of psychology. During his junior year, he discovered human factors courses in the Industrial Engineering Department and was hooked. He spent his senior year almost exclusively on the Engineering Campus in the laboratory of Michael J. Smith and took several classes on human factors, ergonomics, and safety. Bentzi earned his bachelor?s in psychology and master?s and doctorate degrees in industrial engineering.

Bentzi worked with many faculty members in the IE Department, including Wil­liam Reddan, Pascale Carayon, Robert Radwin, Greg Vanderheiden, Barrett Caldwell, and Steve Wiker. His research projects dealt with drug safety, harvesting machinery cab design, office ergonomics, and ergonomics improvements in food processing. Following his doctorate, Bentzi worked as a research scientist, dealing with ergo­nomics and safety in farming with Larry Chapman in agricultural engineering. He then conducted research dealing with health-systems engineering and improving the quality of care with François Sainfort and, later, Pascale Carayon, director of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement.

When an opening occurred in the Industrial Engineering Department in 2001, Bentzi was recruited to become a member of both the HF/E and the health-systems engineering faculties, as his interests fit both areas. In 2007, he was promoted to asso­ciate professor, and tenure followed in early 2012 with a promotion to professor of in­dustrial and systems engineering.

Bentzi was very successful as a teacher, research scientist, and practitioner of engi­neering for patient safety and health-care quality. His research focused on macroergonomics in health care delivery systems, in particular optimizing human interaction with technology in health-care settings and understanding the relationship between the work system and patient safety in vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. His research had significant academic and practical impact. His papers are routinely cited; for example, ?Health Information Technology: Fallacies and Sober Realities? with coauthors Matthew Weinger, Pat Abbott, and Robert Wears has been downloaded more than 1,500 times since its publication in October 2010. Bentzi published more than 60 journal papers; several of his studies are still ongoing and will continue to produce important research insights for years to come.

In recent years, Bentzi focused his research on human factors in primary care, an understudied but critical research area as primary care struggles to find ways to deliver health services in an effective, safe, and efficient manner. His research collaborations involved several physicians. Bentzi was extremely active and successful in securing research funding, receiving multiple grants from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality and the National Institutes for Health. Known as one of the leading thinkers in applying HF/E to health-care systems, he was invited to lecture about patient safety and related topics around the world.

Bentzi was a passionate teacher and mentor, taking students to hospitals and physi­cians? offices to meet health-care providers and patients. He was the adviser of numerous graduate students, including five PhD students. He was among the first en­gineering professors to videotape his lectures to make them more widely available and to use them as feedback and improve his teaching delivery style. Bentzi was a perfec­tionist in his teaching and research. He instilled this same sense in his graduate stu­dents. In 2009, Bentzi was inducted into the U. of Wisconsin Teaching Academy. He also taught summer and online courses for health-care professionals.

Bentzi is survived by his wife, son, daughter, parents, and siblings.

Respectfully submitted by Michael J. Smith and Pascale Carayon, Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW-Madison News Ser­vice.

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