December 19, 2019

Hickson named to new VUMC leadership roles

Gerald Hickson, MD, Joseph C. Ross Professor of Medical Education and Administration, will assume new leadership and advisory roles with the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy (CPPA) and the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN), beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Gerald Hickson, MD, Joseph C. Ross Professor of Medical Education and Administration, will assume new leadership and advisory roles with the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy (CPPA) and the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN), beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Gerald Hickson, MD

He has been named Founding Director of the CPPA, which he founded in 2002, and will serve in an advisory capacity as Executive Medical Director of Clinical Improvement Education for VHAN.

Hickson, an internationally recognized expert in patient safety, medical malpractice and its causes and prevention, has for the past six years served as Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s senior vice president for Quality, Patient Safety and Risk Prevention. He has also served as the longtime director of Clinical Risk and Loss Prevention and chair of the Medical Center’s Self-Insurance Trust Committee.

He is stepping away from these roles to further develop and strengthen the CPPA and leverage his vast experience to assist VHAN in the development of its clinical education program.

Jennifer Slayton, MSN, RN, vice president for Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention, will step into the role of interim senior vice president for Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention on Jan. 1, 2020.

“Over the course of nearly 40 years of service to the Medical Center, Dr. Hickson has played a variety of important roles. Jerry’s strategies linking clinical accountability with quality and safety processes and outcomes has helped us address issues large and small to the betterment of our patients and clinicians,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“He continues to be very passionate about the work of the CPPA and will bring significant experience to VHAN that will help advance its mission to improve health care delivery across the network. I want to express my sincere gratitude to Jerry for his many contributions while leading our quality and safety initiatives over the past six years, and for his continued leadership with these new responsibilities,” Pinson said.

“Dr. Hickson’s leadership and guidance has really helped move our Quality and Safety Programs forward,” Slayton said. “He has helped us achieve our Quality and Safety Pillar Goals and the implementation of new programs. We now have sustainable initiatives in place that help set the course for continued improvement.”

During Hickson’s time as QSRP leader he is proud of the work that has gone into changing culture in a manner that now everyone embraces the concept of the patient harm index.

“As a result of everyone’s efforts, over the past five or six years we have been able to cut patient falls in half and reduce preventable infections by more than 60%. We have created a team focused on health prevention and have gotten appropriate preventative services to thousands of patients. And we have reduced our observed to expected mortality rate by more than 25% by providing improved care and actively engaging with patient and families to identify their preferences as they approach the end of life. That’s what professionals do,” Hickson said.

“I’m most proud of our safety work introducing the serious safety event methodology across the enterprise, identifying those circumstances where we have not delivered the care we aspire to and have brought together team members to better understand why, and more importantly, understand what steps we need to put in place to make care safer for the next patients we see.”

The CPPA has produced a trove of influential research that has provided important insights into the behaviors and practices of physicians and other health care workers. These findings have been used to help elevate the quality and safety of health care delivery not only at VUMC but at other practice sites around the world.

Through its propriety systems, PARS (Patient Advocacy Reporting System) and CORS (Co-worker Observation Reporting System), the CPPA uses data gathered from nearly 80,000 national health care professionals, more than 2.5 million codable reports, and evidence-based processes to promote professionalism, reduce malpractice risk and increase patient satisfaction. The CPPA partners with more than 187 health care organizations to perform this work.

“Dr. Hickson’s work over the past 30 years has been foundational as we’ve achieved a better understanding of the link between respect, professionalism and the outcomes for patients we all hope to achieve,” said William Cooper, MD, MPH, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy, and Vice President for Patient and Professional Advocacy.

“We are delighted to continue our important partnership in helping to promote the best culture for VUMC and the 200+ partners around the country who benefit every day from his groundbreaking work.”

With VHAN, Hickson will work with VHAN’s leadership and membership to identify education infrastructure and resources that exist across the network and develop a consistent, reliable approach to clinical education.

His background ensures that VHAN’s efforts will align to quality and safety improvements while delivering value to members and patients alike.

“Clinical education is a central component to the VHAN’s evidence-based care transformation efforts, and as an educator, Dr. Hickson has unique skills to cultivate knowledge and learning infrastructure in the network on the principles and methods of quality and safety adherence and improvement that drive behavior,” said David Posch, MS, Executive Vice President for Population Health.

“Having Dr. Hickson’s experience and passion for this work will be enable us to scale and measure the great work that’s already happening among our members and support VHAN’s continuous pursuit to be the preferred network in the region.”

Hickson joined the Department of Pediatrics in 1982 and served six years as vice chairman and chief of Pediatric Outpatient Services for the Vanderbilt Clinic. In 2003, he was appointed associate dean for Clinical Affairs and director of the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy.

In 2005, he was named director of Clinical Risk and Loss Prevention and chairman of the self-insurance trust committee. In 2013, he was appointed senior vice president of Quality, Safety, and Risk Prevention for the Vanderbilt Health Systems to support VUMC’s pursuit of high reliability and professional accountability.

He serves as a member of the board of directors of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and has served as chair of the board of directors of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) and as chair of the Board of Professionals in Patient Safety (CBPPS).

He was also chair of the Quality Care Committee for the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) and was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Quality Improvement.

In 2014, Hickson was recognized by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation with Professionalism Article Prize and as the first Dr. Allan D. and Claire S. Jenson Lecturer in Professionalism and Ethics for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Additional honors include the Excellence in Research and Teaching award from the Ambulatory Pediatric Association, the National Healthcare Patient Advocacy award from the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy and the Vanguard Award for the Advancement of Patient Safety from the Doctor’s Company Foundation.

Hickson received a BS from the University of Georgia and MD from Tulane University School of Medicine and completed his pediatric residency and a fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.