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Harvey Picker

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 05 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1314
  1. Caroline Richmond

Inventor and philanthropist

Last month’s announcement of UK patients’ increasing satisfaction with their experience in hospital (BMJ 17 May, p 1091) was funded by the Picker Institute, which was founded by the philanthropist Harvey Picker. A talented and prolific inventor, he used the profits from his medical equipment company to set up the Picker Institute—with branches in the USA, Germany, and Britain—to conduct research into patients’ experiences and suggest needed reforms.

His inspiration was his wife, Jean, a journalist for Life magazine and US ambassador to the United Nations. She suffered from a head and neck fistula that eventually killed her. The medical care she received was excellent, but it was not always humane, sympathetic, or geared to her needs.

The name Picker will be familiar to anyone using medical imaging equipment. For two decades Harvey was head of the family business, Picker Medical, now part of GEC. It was a long established maker of x ray equipment, and at the forefront of …

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