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Daniel S. Fleisher, 80, Pediatric Nephrologist and Medical Pioneer

June 7, 2007
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Daniel S. Fleisher, 80, a pediatric nephrologist, died May 16 at his home in Philadelphia.

Fleisher was formerly director of the renal clinic at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and chairman of Division B department of pediatrics at Philadelphia General Hospital, where he was involved in patient care, medical research and medical education.

Mid-career, he earned a master's degree in medical education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and then returned to Temple Medical School to serve as director of continuing medical education, director of the first interdisciplinary course at Temple Medical School, director of the Center for Research in Medical Education and assistant to the vice president for medical affairs.

Fleisher pioneered work and research in medical quality assurance, conducting more than 40 of the earliest workshops and courses throughout the United States and Canada, and his research was widely published. His contributions included new methods of evaluating the clinical judgment of medical students and training laymen as patient-actors to develop students' interviewing skills. The goal was to teach students to listen to and communicate with the whole patient, rather than focusing solely on their diseases.

He was invited to the University of the Pacific in San Francisco to develop a new school of health professions, which was based on a novel approach of self-directed learning, computer-based evaluations and a curriculum in which medical, nursing, pharmacy and dental students learned together. These ideas proved to be too radical for the board, and they dropped the plan for the school. He then initiated and directed the first Office of Quality Assurance at Oakland Children's Hospital in California. Though not all of his visions were realized immediately, many of his pioneering ideas have become routine in medical schools throughout the world.

In 1978, Fleisher was appointed associate dean for curricular affairs at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he developed a method of evaluating the clinical skills of medical practitioners. In 1983, he returned to Philadelphia as visiting professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

In 1985, he became a site visitor for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and then a consultant to residency programs in the United States and Puerto Rico. He was also a consultant for many years to the World Health Organization, directing annual workshops for doctors and medical schools in many European countries, and in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Israel.

Fleisher served as chair of the board for Woodrock, Inc., a United Way youth-service organization that provides cultural diversity and human-relations training to youth.

Born in the Logan section of Philadelphia, he attended Central High School, Villanova University and Hahnemann Medical College.

He was said to be the youngest boy at the time to be awarded the honor of Eagle Scout. Throughout his life, he was an avid tennis player, a longtime member and leader of "Great Books" discussion groups, a duplicate bridge player, photographer, birdwatcher and gardener.

The doctor is survived by his wife of 56 years, Barbara Fleisher; daughters Wendy Robertson and Jane Weiss; son Peter Fleisher; sister Naomi Klein; brother Israel Fleisher; and seven grandchildren.

 

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