Crash Claims Life of FDA Device Sterilization Expert

Friends and colleagues are mourning the sudden death of Vicki Hitchins, PhD, a research microbiologist in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hitchins was killed while driving to work after her car struck a tree early Friday morning, June 17, in Silver Spring, Md. She was 71.

“This is heartbreaking,” said Joe Lewelling, vice president of emerging technologies and health IT at the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). “I have known Vicki for about 25 years, and she was much more than a colleague-she was a good friend.”

Police are investigating the accident, which The Washington Post described as mysterious because of another crash that occured nearby minutes later, as well as other odd circumstances. The newspaper noted that police were seeking eyewitness to the accidents to try to determine what happened. Hitchins, an expert in cytotoxicity testing, co-chaired the AAMI Sterilization Standards Committee for almost 20 years and was a member of numerous other standards working groups and committees, including ISO/TC 194, Biological and clinical evaluation of medical devices. She led the U.S. delegation to ISO/TC 198, which focuses on the sterilization of healthcare products, for 17 years and spoke at the 2011 AAMI/FDA Medical Devices Reprocessing Summit. Hitchins also played a significant role in AAMI publications, participating as an expert on roundtable discussions, serving as an editorial board member for sterilization editions of Horizons, and co-authoring numerous articles that appeared in B&IT and other AAMI publications.

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Source: AAMI