Global Leader in Patient Safety

Berenholtz translated research into practice to improve care and save lives.


International patient safety and quality leader, anesthesiologist and critical care physician Sean Berenholtz died on April 16 of pancreatic cancer. His colleagues remembered him as an outstanding clinician, educator, mentor and researcher.

“He was not only a mentor and friend but also a distinguished clinician and colleague whose dedication to improving patient safety and quality of care left an indelible mark on all of us,” Danny Muehlschlegel, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine (ACCM), and Allen Kachalia, director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, said in statement. “Sean’s legacy as a leader, educator and wonderful human being will continue to influence and inspire.”

Berenholtz was a professor in the ACCM department with joint appointments in the Department of Surgery and Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He also served as the ACCM’s medical director of perioperative safety, and as the director of inpatient quality and safety for the Armstrong Institute and as a member of the institute’s executive committee.

Recognized as a national and international leader in translating research into practice to improve patient safety and quality, he led several national and international task forces; served on numerous technical expert panels for government agencies and presidential advisory panels; and worked with hospitals in Africa, Peru and Abu Dhabi. He also authored several studies that stand as seminal works in improving patient safety.

Berenholtz earned his medical degree in 1995 from the Medical College of Virginia and completed an internship at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1996. He then completed his residency at Johns Hopkins and became an ACCM fellow in 2000. In 2003, he earned a master’s degree in clinical investigation at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.