November 16, 2007

New chair bolsters research into physician issues

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Gerald Hickson, M.D., left, and Joseph Ross, M.D., at last week’s event commemorating the creation of the Joseph C. Ross Chair in Medical Education and Administration, which Hickson will hold. (photo by Tommy Lawson)

New chair bolsters research into physician issues

Gerald Hickson, M.D., associate dean for Clinical Affairs, director of the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy, and director of Clinical Risk and Loss Prevention, has been named to the Joseph C. Ross Chair in Medical Education and Administration.

The newly endowed chair will support Hickson's research on understanding why families file suit, why certain physicians attract malpractice claims and how to develop strategies for intervening when physicians experience high malpractice claims.

Hickson's research has resulted in more than 100 peer review publications, editorials and book chapters.

It has been presented at more than 200 grand rounds, invited lectures and national meetings in 31 states and Canada.

The endowed chair is named for Joseph C. Ross, M.D., professor of Medicine, Emeritus, and associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs, Emeritus. Ross is a 1954 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and served as associate vice chancellor from 1980 to 1998.

He played a key role in establishing Vanderbilt's Emergency Medicine department and LifeFlight.

“It was a surprise to learn they named this chair for me,” Ross said. “I guess Jerry felt I helped him over the years. He has put so much into patient satisfaction — he's taken it to a whole new level.”

“Dr. Ross has been a role model to me throughout my career,” Hickson said. “He understood how to make medicine kinder and safer. His can-do attitude helped build Vanderbilt into the national leader it is today.”

Hickson established the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy in 2003 to promote patient and professional satisfaction with health care and to restrain escalating costs associated with patient dissatisfaction.

The center's physician intervention program is described in the November issue of Academic Medicine.

Primary funding for the Ross Chair was generated through the center's work. “Individual donors who believe in Joe Ross' mission to make medicine kinder and safer are encouraged to contribute,” said Hickson.

“Jerry has been devoted to determining why certain physicians attract a disproportionate share of complaints,” said Medical School Dean Steven Gabbe, M.D.

“His work has made immense contributions to improving patient care and professionalism in medicine. He is the first doctor to spend time with our medical students on their first day. He's outstanding at sharing the benefits, challenges and ethical dilemmas of practicing medicine.”